Leeds recruit James McDonnell on his 2023 goals and what fans can expect

Drew Darbyshire
James McDonnell and James Bentley Ireland SWpix

Photo: Will Palmer/SWpix

Ireland international James McDonnell says he hopes to become an established Super League player with his new club Leeds.

The 22-year-old forward has linked up with the Rhinos on a two-year deal from his hometown club Wigan.

McDonnell linked up with his new team-mates this week after a break following his World Cup campaign with Ireland.

“It was my first session in a couple of weeks so it was good to get in and meet all the lads,” McDonnell told the Rhinos YouTube channel.

“I know Bentos (James Bentley) and Richie (Myler) from the Ireland camp, they are good lads. I know Sam Walters and Tom Holroyd too and they are good lads as well.

“I’ve not really looked back since I made the decision. Starting this week, I can see that it’s going to be a good decision for me. The coaching staff are all top notch and the lads have been great with me already so I feel like I’ll slot in nicely at the club.”

McDonnell made six appearances for Wigan after making his first team debut in 2020. He also enjoyed loan spells at York and Leigh, playing 17 games for the Leopards in 2022.

The back-rower wants to become a regular player for the Rhinos in his first season at Headingley.

“I just want to be firing on all cylinders come round one,” he added.

“I want to feature in as many pre-season games as possible and get some minutes under my belt. And then to get a full year under my belt, play a lot of Super League – that’s the goal for me this year.”

What can fans expect from James McDonnell?

The answer is simple: effort.

“That’s what I base my game on,” he said.

“Working for the lads and doing the dirty stuff and doing the extra one per cent and that kind of stuff. I’ve never really been a flashy player but hopefully there’s a bit of that to come.”

Read more

Super League ins and outs fDylan or 2023: Signings and departures club-by-club

2023 rugby league kits including every Super League club

List of 2023 rugby league pre-season friendlies

FOLLOW: Keep up with all the latest on the Love Rugby League mobile app and podcast