'Tired' Hunslet counting cost of pre-season disruption says coach Gary Thornton

A disjointed pre-season has contributed to Hunslet’s disappointing start in Betfred League One, according to coach Gary Thornton.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 5:00 pm
Will Cooke has yet to play for Hunslet this season due to injury. Picture by Paul Johnson/Hunslet RLFC.

Hunslet have lost their two home games so far, to Workington Town and Barrow Raiders, either side of a win at North Wales Crusaders.

Thornton admitted: “The players have been suffering from fatigue in the closing stages of games, by comparison with their opponents.”

But he stressed: “There’s a reason for that.

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Hunslet coach Gary Thornton. Picture by Tony Johnson.

“Our pre-season preparations have been limited, partly because of limited access to the council-owned stadium during the pandemic, while most other teams own their own grounds and haven’t had that problem.

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“We could hold only one training session a week, initially, through the high cost of adhering to Covid-19 protocols and we’ve unavoidably been behind schedule in our preparations.

“Last year, when we started well and were finishing strongly in games, we had 42 sessions in pre-season.

“This year we had 12, which says everything.

“We’re undercooked until we get a few games under our belts - it’s a simple fact.”

The Parksiders scored first against Barrow and it was 6-6 at half-time, but the visitors added three tries in the final 17 minutes.

Thornton reckons once Hunslet are fully match-fit, they will be a match for anyone in their division.

“What we’re going to take heart from is that, despite not having played well, we had Barrow for the taking midway through the second half,” he said.

“They are League One’s big spenders, but we’d kept them at bay with what was nothing short of heroic defence on our own line.

“That tells me when we do reach full fitness and hit top form we will - as last year - be a force to be reckoned with.”

Thornton also feels Hunslet have had “little luck with decisions” so far, while injuries have also played a part.

Jimmy Watson and Will Cooke have yet to feature after being hurt in pre-season and captain Duane Straugheir lasted only half of the game against Barrow before suffering a back injury.

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