“Cookie” fit and ready to go

Date published: Wednesday, October 1, 2014
DAVID Cookson is ready to go into Grand Final battle for Oldham with his gashed head protected by a scrum cap.
“I hope it still fits,” said the big centre, who last wore it a year ago in the play-off final against Rochdale at Leigh Sports Village when he had stitches in his chin.
This time he will be covering up a wound on his forehead which required four surgical staples after a clash of heads with team mate Kenny Hughes while both players were making a tackle in the 31-12 semi-final win at York.
Early in the season Hughes was involved in a similar incident with Liam Thompson, who fractured his cheekbone and his eye socket and was out for nearly three months after surgery.
In both cases Hughes escaped with hardly a mark on him.
“He must have the hardest head in the club,” said Cookson, who had the clips removed last night at Rochdale Infirmary.
He wasn’t able to take part in last week’s heavy contact work in training but, starting tonight, he will train normally with the rest of the squad, wearing the head guard to get used to it ahead of Sunday’s final showdown with Hunslet Hawks at Headingley Carnegie Stadium in Leeds.
He will celebrate his 26th birthday tomorrow (wed) working at his day job as caretaker of Friezland Primary School.
And on Sunday, as one of the Roughyeds’ defensive big guns, he will be out to take care of the threat from his opposing centres, Danny Maun and Lee Brickwood.
“I think we learned a lot when beaten by Rochdale in last year’s final,” said Cookson.”We are a much more experienced side now and the occasion shouldn’t be anything like as daunting as it was last year.
“We’ve had two cracking wins already in this play-off series. There’s a good feeling at the club and we’re certainly due to get the bounce of the ball in a play-off final.
“As for my injury, it feels good to get the staples out and to be in a position where I can start full contact training again.
“I intend to take advice and wear the head guard, even though I’m more comfortable without it.
“But if its a hot day I’ll ask our medical people to let me go out just with strapping around my head.
“Unless you’re used to wearing a scrum cap regularly, they can be extremely uncomfortable in hot conditions and I wouldn’t want that in a match which has so much riding on it.”
Scott Naylor expects to be selecting from a fully fit squad, with the exception of Brett Robinson, who has been out with ankle ligament damage for several weeks.
Fans are reminded that Headingley match tickets are on sale every night this week from 5pm to 7pm at Whitebank. Coach travel is also available.
* GARY Thornton’s failure to get York back in the Championship at the first attempt has cost him his coaching  job with the Knights.
His two-year contract runs out next month and he will not be offered a new deal. He was offered a director of rugby role on less money, but turned it down.
His assistant, James Ford, is expected to take over.