Hull switch no problem for McDonnell
Australian full-back Shannon McDonnell is unfazed over the prospect of coming up against his old team-mates in the Hull derby.
The 25-year-old former Wests Tigers and Newcastle player spent his first season in Super League with Hull KR but, after being unable to agree a new deal, swapped to the west of the city and signed a two-year contract with arch rivals Hull FC.
Along with former Rovers captain Ben Galea, McDonnell will face an early reunion with his old club when they meet in a pre-season friendly at the KC Stadium on Sunday.
“It’s a part of league,” he said. “Players move teams. It’s a bit different here with two teams in the same town but all my focus and energy is with FC now.”
McDonnell, who played the first 21 matches of 2012 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury, had resigned himself to returning to Australia when talks collapsed with Rovers.
“I enjoyed my time at Craven Park,” he said. “It’s a good club and the fans are really passionate and loyal. It was a good place to be.
“The negotiations just didn’t work out the way we hoped and there was an opportunity that came up with FC late in the season.”
McDonnell is one of seven new faces at the KC Stadium, including England forward Gareth Ellis, whose arrival has raised expectations and prompted the bookmakers to install Hull as the best bet to break the trophy monopoly of the big four of Leeds Rhinos, Warrington Wolves, Wigan Warriors and St Helens.
McDonnell is delighted with the competition for places but is loathe to make bold predictions for the season, which begins when Hull take on champions Leeds in a fortnight’s time.
“You don’t really want to put much expectation on where you want to finish and what you want to achieve at the start of the season,” he said.
“We’re a new team and we’re just excited to all play together and start gelling, with all the new faces that are here.
“There’s a real good depth with all the halves we have, with their experience and knowledge. I think it’s a good problem for the coaching staff to have in picking the halves.”
Another former Hull KR player, Liam Watts, will miss the start of the season after experiencing a setback with a thumb injury while second rower Danny Tickle is a doubt for the Leeds game after struggling to overcome an arm injury.