Donaldson aiming to make the most of Rhinos chance

James Donaldson says he is thriving from the challenge of being part of the Leeds Rhinos squad in pre-season and believes regardless of where his trial with the club will go, he will be a better player for it.

The former Bradford forward is out of contract having left Hull KR at the end of the 2018 season. Whilst his fellow professionals headed back to the start of pre-season, the Cumbrian found himself forced to train on his own in the gym. Then a phone call with Leeds Rhinos Director of Rugby Kevin Sinfield offered him an opportunity he jumped at.

He commented, “I’m really enjoying it here at the Rhinos. I was buzzing when I got the call from Kev offering me the chance to come and train with such a great club. I have loved my time so far as I get to know the boys.

“It is so frustrating when you are out of contract but I tried to keep myself positive by training hard every day in the gym to keep myself in the best possible shape for when an opportunity did come my way. I didn’t want to go part time because I knew I still had plenty to offer,” added Donaldson.

For now, Donaldson remains out of contract and is purely training with the Rhinos however he hopes he can impress Dave Furner to earn a place in the squad. He added, “There is no better environment for me at the moment than being involved with the Rhinos. Chris Black is doing a great job on the conditioning side of things and I have really enjoyed learning from Dave Furner. He is bringing in new things all the time and that is helping me become a better player.

“The lads have been a great laugh and it has been really easy to fit in. Brad Singleton is a good friend of mine and we have caught up a few times as we have both lived in Leeds for the last few years.

“I feel like I have slotted straight in. My fitness has not been a problem but I have had to catch up on the skills work having not had the ball in my hands for the last few months but that is all coming together now,” added Donaldson.