Welham optimistic of bouncing back to Championship

After a disastrous 2015, Liam Welham believes Doncaster have the fight to bounce-back to the Kingstone Press Championship.

The Dons won just two games in the entire season, seeing them relegated from the competition, and slumped to a club record low of 24 games without a win.

Reflecting on a disappointing season for his side, Welham admits promotion is a huge step forward for the club.

“No-one wants to get relegated and unfortunately we were in that boat last season, we could have survived but we was looking for other fixtures to go our way,” he said.

“Going from winning two games all season, I think finishing somewhere near the top is a big step in the right direction, promotion is key but it’s not the up all and end all.”

Wholesale changes have been made at the club since their demise last season, with head coach Gary Thornton bringing in 23 new players and showing the bulk of the squad the door out of Keepmoat. WelhamLiam1-24-0515

Of those, Thornton has brought in a number of players he has worked with in his previous positions with Wakefield, Castleford and Sheffield Eagles.

Welham payed homage to Thornton’s recruitment and he believes the players has drafted in can work wonders in 2016.

“Our sights are set purely on promotion but we’re in no limbo land and we know it’s going to be a very tough season.

“We’ve got a very thin budget but Gary’s worked his magic and managed to persuade some of his ex-players who are very good players to join the club.”

One of the main problems, in Welham’s eyes, last season was an ever-changing starting line-up, with a number of injuries and dual-registration players coming thick and fast from Hull FC.

The 27 year-old admitted the system can be helpful for Championship sides, but can also be damaging to the players on contract at the feeder clubs.

“We’ve relied heavily for the last few two years on some of the dual-registered players, including those who unfortunately don’t get in at Hull FC and they come down.

“It can be a god-send and really good but it can also be negative, you could have a young lad who’s on a good run for the last few games and all of a sudden gets dropped for no apparent reason.

“A better player then comes into our side and that knocks the lads confidence a lot, lucking I wasn’t effected by that because you very rarely get outside-backs that come down it’s usually the forward pack.”

Another positive going into the new season is the revision of this system, which allows Doncaster players who do not play for the club to feature for a number of reserve grade sides in the area.

Both Hull sides and Thornton’s former employers Sheffield Eagles have all signed up to the scheme to assist Doncaster to make the most of their playing squad.

Welham, who works for Hull FC as a community coach, admitted the new structure of dual-registration can be more beneficial.

“Gary still wanted to keep the link and its tit for tat now, it was all one-way system, they reaped the benefits and our lads who got dropped didn’t.

“All the young lads who we’ve got under the age of 23 who don’t get picked for us aren’t going to sit on the side lines and do nothing they’ve got options to go play for Sheffield or the merged Hull team.”