PROP Dean O’Loughlin is proving a knock-out signing for Dons’ boss Tony Miller.
The 29 year-old former heavyweight boxer has returned to the South Yorkshire club this season after deciding to hang up his boxing gloves and has added much-needed size to the pack.
O’Loughlin looked to have a big future in the game when joining Super League club Hull FC, but his progress at the KC Stadium-based club was hampered by a serious knee injury and he joined the Dons in 2005.
A second-rower in those days, O’Loughlin played with a heavily-strapped knee which appeared to affect his mobility at times.
He moved on to York City Knights at the end of his first season only to decide to turn professional boxer with Doncaster manager John Rushton midway through the season.
“It wasn’t anything to do with the knee, it was always something that I had wanted to do,” recalled the 6’ 4” 18 stone O’Loughlin this week.
“I won my first fight at the Dome and my record was okay, but I wasn’t linked to a promoter most of the time and I wasn’t getting enough fights to make it pay so I decided to quit after five years.
“I started playing a bit of amateur rugby with Cottingham and Tony, who was the No 2 the last time I was here, got in touch and asked me if I was interested in coming back. I enjoyed my time here last time so I decided to give it another go and it’s proved a good decision.
“The club have moved on since I was last here. They are playing in a new stadium and it’s a lot more professional. We’ve made a good start to the season and we’ve been top of Championship One for the last two weeks and we hope to stay there.
“But to do that we know we need to play for the full 80 minutes; we can’t afford to slack off for ten minutes like we did in the second half of Sunday’s game against Rochdale when we conceded three tries. We still managed to run out comfortable winners but we might not have been so lucky had we been playing the likes of Workington or Barrow, who are up there with us.
“We’ve got to go up to Workington, in what is going to be a key match, on Sunday week, but before then we’ve got a home match at home to fourth-placed Oldham. They suffered a surprise defeat at home to North Wales at the weekend so they’ll be really up for Sunday’s game”