Harrison relishing clash with Cooke’s in-form Dons

Karl Harrison
Karl Harrison

Fax coach Karl Harrison is expecting a battle royale when Doncaster arrive at the Shay for round six of the Championship campaign on Sunday (3pm).

The South Yorkshire side have made a blistering start to the season under the guidance of player-coach Paul Cooke who Harrison has labelled one of the best young coaches around.

Cooke has tapped into his former club, Hull FC, and has recruited some quality players that have guided the team to impressive victories over Batley and, more recently, Featherstone Rovers.

The upshot is that Doncaster occupy second place on the ladder having won four and losing one of their five matches. History, however, is in Fax’s favour with five victories and a draw in tthe last six encounters between the sides.

Harrison knows that he also has plenty of talent at his disposal and he believes a cracker is on the cards.

“Paul Cooke is an exceptional young coach and he has got them playing very well,” admitted Harrison. “He is also young enough to be still playing which gives them leadership on the pitch as well

“Doncaster have done very well so far. They have good ball players like Scott Spaven and they play a nice brand of rugby which has seen them beat Batley and Featherstone.

“They have got to be respected, there is no doubt about that, but I saw signs of improvement at Whitehaven last Sunday which was very encouraging.

“We still need to improve considerably but the signs are definitely there.”

The major downside of Fax’s 36-14 success at Recreation Park was a first half injury to powerhouse prop Adam Robinson who was forced out of the action with a hairline fracture of his right arm.

That is a major blow for us,” added Harrison. “I feel so sorry for him because he had worked extremely hard to come back from a groin injury.

“He got himself in great shape and was playing well. It is one of those injuries where he is in plaster almost to the shoulder which means he is also going to miss out on fitness training.

“We are looking at losing him for six weeks which is bad news for him and the team.”

Harrison does have options and will look to shuffle his resources with the possibiliity of moving Dane Manning into the back row.

“Having said that Dane scored two tries from centre last weekend so it will be a late call,” said Harrison. “We have options available so we will be okay.”