Front rower James Donaldson joined the Rhinos at the start of the 2019 season after impressing during a trial period in pre-season. The former Bradford Bulls and Hull KR player featured off the bench in the Wetherby Whaler Festive Challenge match against Wakefield prior to agreeing a one-year deal with the club.
Donaldson made his Super League debut, aged 18, in 2009 when Bradford suffered a 38-40 loss to Castleford. Two games later he scored his first try for the first team against Wigan. At the end of the campaign, with seven substitute appearances and two tries, Donaldson signed a three-year contract with Bradford.
A ruptured ACL midway through the 2010 season ended Donaldson’s season early; the forward being out for six months. Over the next two seasons, he made fourteen appearances as the Bulls began to slip down the table, but with a new 12-month contract accepted in 2013, Donaldson would appear regularly in the front row. 12 starts and two more tries came as the Bulls finished ninth at the end of the season. In 2014, Donaldson made 22 starts but couldn’t prevent Bradford’s fate of relegation from Super League.
Donaldson moved away from the Bulls in 2015 to sign for Hull KR, where he would spend four seasons. He made 42 Super League appearances throughout his time at the Robins and appeared in the club’s first Challenge Cup final since 1986, where they lost 50-0 to the Rhinos in their treble season. With the Rovers relegated a year later, Donaldson was one of thirteen players that stayed to help get the club promoted in 2017.
With Tim Sheens at the helm for the club’s first season back in Super League, Donaldson was mainly an impact player, coming off the bench 16 times. With the club surviving their Qualifiers campaign, Donaldson left Hull KR before trialling with the Rhinos at the end of 2018.
Challenge Cup: Finalist 2015