O’Donnell joins Roosters
Sydney Roosters have completed the signing of former Australia Test forward Luke O’Donnell on a 12-month deal following his release by Huddersfield Giants.
The 32-year-old, who played in the Giants’ season-opening win at St Helens a fortnight ago, becomes the Roosters’ fourth close-season recruit, joining Sonny Bill Williams, James Maloney and Michael Jennings at Bondi Junction in time for the start of the 2013 campaign.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson, who witnessed O’Donnell’s two injury-hit seasons in Super League as boss of Catalan Dragons, is delighted with his latest acquisition.
“Luke has plenty of experience, will fit into our system here well and we’re looking forward to him starting,” said Robinson.
“Together with our other senior players in the forwards, he’s sure to not only help on the field.
“It will be great to have him mentor the younger forwards we have coming through the ranks.”
O’Donnell, who had 12 months left on his Huddersfield deal, said his desire to return to Australia with his young family was the main reason for his early departure.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing in the NRL again and can’t wait to meet my new team-mates and getting stuck into training,” said the former North Queensland forward, who will fly back tomorrow.
Huddersfield coach Paul Anderson has begun the search for a replacement for O’Donnell, who was yesterday released by mutual agreement.
O’Donnell’s place was taken by new signing Ukuma Ta’ai for the Giants’ 34-6 win over London Broncos on Sunday but Anderson is determined to plug the gap in his squad.
“We’re throwing names around at the minute,” he said. “What it does is free up fair amount of salary-cap space.
“We’re going through the process of seeing what’s the best thing for us. Do we want to bring someone else in like for like or do we want to strengthen other areas?
“We have a quality squad any way and now have the ability to wait and see if anything falls off the tree either over here or in the NRL.”
O’Donnell made just 23 appearances in his first two injury-hit seasons in Super League but made an impressive return in Huddersfield’s opening 40-4 win at St Helens 11 days ago.
However, he missed their win over London amid reports that his wife had become homesick and that he had become unhappy over the tightening of tax regulations affecting overseas players.
“It’s disappointing for him to be leaving but I fully understand his position and he goes with my best wishes,” Anderson said.