Dons hope to Cooke up a storm
Ambitious Championship One club Doncaster have completed the signing of former Hull FC and Hull KR favourite Paul Cooke.
The 30-year-old, who scored the match-winning try for Hull in the 2005 Challenge Cup final, has been out of the game for over a year after being released by Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, but has been unveiled as one of Doncaster’s biggest ever signings.
The acquisition is a major coup for the Dons, who are intent on winning promotion to the Championship this year, and Cooke will combine playing for the club with a full-time job in their development department.
Doncaster, who are in the third tier of the professional game, managed to complete a deal for the stand-off or loose forward after fans and sponsors matched the club’s offer of £600 a month.
“It’s a huge signing for us,” chief executive and former player Carl Hall told a press conference at the Keepmoat Stadium.
“It’s got to be up there with one of the best signings the club has ever had.
“He’s a big name in the game and we want to sell the game to Doncaster people. If someone like Paul is going around the schools, it can only benefit us.”
Cooke, who will be on the same terms as the rest of the players, is now facing a race to be fit for the start of the season next month after being out of the game for 15 months.
“I’ve got some training to do,” he said.
“I just want to enjoy it and I want to give something back to the game that has given me so much.
“Since I finished at Wakefield I had a couple of offers but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to play the game.
“I’ve kind of been selfish in my ways in the last 10 or 12 years in that, as many focused full-time professionals do, you forget about the grassroots and the kids.
“There wasn’t a thought about getting back into it but when Carl contacted me, it just fell into place. He sold the community side to me and getting involved in playing again has now excited me.”
Doncaster coach Tony Miller said: “For Doncaster to attract a player of Paul’s calibre proves how far we’ve come.
“This could be massive for the club. We’ve lacked a leader on the pitch and Paul will be able to turn games with his ability.
“We’ve got a young team and I want them to learn as much as they can from Paul.”