DEWSBURY Rams have suffered a pre-season setback with hooker Luke Blake likely to be out for around two months after suffering a knee injury in the pre-match warm-up at Batley last Sunday.
Blake has damaged medial ligaments - the same injury as former Rams’ prop Adam Robinson, now at Batley, who was hurt in the first minute of the re-arranged game to make it an unhappy double.
Dewsbury coach Warren Jowitt said it was likely that Blake would be out for around two months, the only bright spot being that he should at least be fit and available for the start of the Co-operative Championship season in March.
However, Blake’s bad luck has meant a touch of good fortune for Josh Tonks, who was switched from his intended place on the bench to hooker and had an impressive game both in that position and later in the second row.
Jowitt remarked: “I feel sorry for Luke Blake because he was my starting hooker for the season and this has knocked him back. But he’s a good type, a sound professional and he’ll work hard and get back to fitness.
“At the same time I was really happy with the performance of Josh Tonks and he’s staked his claim for a regular place. I don’t particularly see him as a hooker because he can play in other positions but he can do a job there and for a young lad to do what he did shows he’s a fine prospect and I’m happy wherever he plays if he goes as well as that.”
Jowitt played down concern among Dewsbury fans over the 30-6 defeat by the Bulldogs. He added: “I’m always disappointed to lose a game but you have to put things in perspective. It was a good work-out and we took the chance to have a look at several of our new players. I haven’t yet won in these pre-season derby matches but we’ve done well in other games against Batley when it really mattered. We don’t want to be side-tracked by one fixture, our main target is the League.
“I heard one supporter say he didn’t care what we did in the league so long as we beat Batley on Boxing Day, that’s ridiculous. They’d soon complain if we won that game and then did badly in the Championship.
“Our preparation so far has been to concentrate on strength, power and endurance conditioning, the match preparation and ball work comes later and we’re not physically prepared for it. We’ve done very little work on defence, although Batley didn’t break us all that often but when they did our scrambling defence was good.
“The main thing about this fixture is that it helps the clubs financially and gives the players a change from training. But when you pick up injuries like Luke Blake’s, it isn’t that good for players and coaches. The pitch was heavy and injuries like this are always a danger.”
Regarding other performances Jowitt said: “James Lockwood was his usual self - grafting away and looked good, I thought Rob Roberts had a strong stint and Ayden Faal had a big game, I was very impressed with him. We’ll make changes for the game against Wakefield a week on Sunday because we want to have a good look at all the squad.
“The training is going well, the hard work is being put in and we’ll be ready when it matters.”
Rams’ chairman Mark Sawyer said: “Both clubs were relieved to get the game played and we were delighted with the attendance of over 2,000 after having to re-arrange at short notice. We would like to thank everyone who turned up.”