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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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Don wins – on points!

STAR quality for Whitehaven – what a coup with the exciting capture of two current Test stars from Papua New Guinea.

Signing stand-off Glen Nami and centre Jesse Joe Parker must seem like manna from heaven (or should I say Port Moresby) descending on The Recre. Hats off to everybody concerned.

These are the kind of elite players the fans have been craving for but never thought possible playing in the lower tier. Who now would tip against Haven blazing the promotion trail?

Stanley Gene, one of the most famous PNG exports, was the go-between in securing Glen Nami. Stanley wanted Glen to be coached by an Aussie – and hey presto Haven had just the man.

Jesse Joe Parker (ex-Featherstone) was all set to play for Wakefield in Super League but to Haven’s good fortune this classy threequarter wasn’t able to join the Wildcats in time for pre-season training.

Haven’s straight-talking Aussie head coach Don Gailer has played his part. Elated Haven chairman Barry Richardson enthused: “These are massive signings for us. Stanley Gene spoke to Don, he knew of his credentials Down Under; Stanley wanted Glen Nami to be coached by an Aussie and was convinced Whitehaven was the right place for him to come.”

Pity the two back division aces can’t be lining up against the old enemy in Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup derby – but they’ll be here in three or four weeks. Worth the wait.

The signing coup overshadows the week’s other big talking point – again featuring The Don! Firing on both barrels, Mr Gailer felt his new charges didn’t give value at Hunslet publicly lambasting some of his players for letting down the club and the small but loyal army of supporters. Named and shamed indeed!

The Don asked those errant players to cough up by giving fans their money back.

By all accounts there was no queue of players outside the Recre turnstiles a few days later for the home Gateshead game!

If Haven players had to cough up every time they let themselves down away from home there wouldn’t be much left in pay packets! Seriously though Don’s decision to single out two or three of the players for criticism straight after the match did raise a few eyebrows.

While Kiwi Kevin Tamati had his moments, I can’t recall any other Haven team boss naming and shaming in the same way.

Some fans, if not players on the receiving end, will no doubt find it refreshing. They pay good money. Even so it’s always been an unwritten rule for players and coaches to let off steam in the dressing room – and let it stay there. Sacrosanct.

The Don levelled criticism at one of his two new captains – the experienced Lee Doran who he said was ‘particularly poor’. As I said last week the relationship between coach and captain is key.

Doran responded magnificently at home in the 34-18 thrashing of Gateshead. He and one or two others including Aussie Andrew Beattie, one of last season’s stand-put performers, have had to take it on the proverbial chin.

Don had fullsome post-match praise for Doran on Sunday saying he was outstanding – player of the match by a country mile.

Mr Gailer had no qualms about anybody’s attitude against The Thunder. Clearly The Don has shown there will be no hiding place for any player who shirks. Unrepentant, too.

He says: “It’s not my game to be singling out blokes and giving it to ‘em, but there was a situation on Wednesday where it was deserved. I am not going to walk away from that but hopefully our supporters will just hang in there. Nine weeks ago most of these guys had never played with each other.”

It’s a pity promising out-of-favour full-back Craig Benson has quit – but one way or another The Don is keeping everybody on their toes.

Anyway, it’s back to Derwent Park this Sunday to try and extract revenge against the old enemy and make some Rail Cup headway. Doran & Co must tame a Jamie Thackray led Town pack now boosted by a trio of Hull KR recruits.

On the week as a whole I reckon no-punches-pulled Don has just about won it on points.

Mind you he could do with another win – on Derwent Park.

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