PNG star Nene Macdonald to make debut for his new club this weekend

Drew Darbyshire
Nene Macdonald Papua New Guinea News Images

Photo: Craig Thomas/News Images

Papua New Guinea international Nene Macdonald is set to make his debut for his new club Leeds in Friday night’s televised clash with Hull.

The 28-year-old centre missed the Rhinos’ opening round defeat at Warrington with a leg injury he suffered whilst playing at the World Cup last autumn.

But the towering Macdonald could make his debut when Leeds welcome Hull to Headingley on Friday night after being named in Rohan Smith’s 21-man squad. He replaces young winger Liam Tindall.

On how Macdonald is looking, Smith replied: “Very good. I think he’s ticked off all of the things regarding healing time, which is one of the parameters.

“But he’s ticked off all of the return to play measures too and the testing, and he’s been back amongst the team for a few sessions. He’s there or thereabouts.”

Nene Macdonald: Winger or centre?

Macdonald is naturally a centre, but is also comfortable playing on the wing. Smith was coy on the positioning of Macdonald when asked about it.

Smith added: “You’re assuming he’s going to play centre if he plays there. I see him as a centre or a winger.

“The guys that played centre last week did a decent job. A lot of the skills he has apply equally as to whether he plays centre or wing. He’s played mostly as a winger in his NRL career and he’s also played full-back as a younger player. He played at Leigh last year in the centres but if he’d played on the wing he’d have had a big year.”

However, the Rhinos will still be without Harry Newman, Mikolaj Oledzki, James Bentley, Luke Hooley and Max Simpson.

James McDonnell, Leon Ruan and Sam Walters – who didn’t play in last week’s defeat at Warrington – could play for Smith’s side.

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Andre Savelio boosts Hull

Hull, meanwhile, will welcome back back-row forward Andre Savelio, who could make his first appearance of the season.

Youngster Harvey Barron comes into Tony Smith’s side to replace Samoa international Ligi Sao, who is recovering from a dead leg.

Black and Whites captain Carlos Tuimavave will miss the trip to Headingley after suffering a minor setback.

Jake Trueman, Connor Wynne, Mitieli Vulikijapani and Jamie Shaul are also unavailable through injury.

Leeds: Myler, Fusitu’a, Macdonald, Handley, Austin, Sezer, Leeming, Tetevano, Martin, Smith, O’Connor, Lisone, Olpherts, Sangare, Holroyd, McDonnell, Gannon, Walters, Roberts, Donaldson, Ruan.

Hull: Hoy, Swift, Sutcliffe, McIntosh, Clifford, Houghton, Satae, Savelio, Lane, Fash, Lovodua, Cator, Evans, Scott, McNamara, Brown, Griffin, Litten, Barron, Taylor, Dwyer.

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