O’Donnell gets Exiles nod


Exiles coach Brian McClennan has chosen Huddersfield Giants back rower Luke O’Donnell as his third selection for the Exiles 22-man squad that will take on England in the International Origin Match on Friday June 10 at Headingley Carnegie.

O’Donnell joins Exiles captain and current Leeds Rhinos hooker Danny Buderus and vice captain Thomas Leuluai from Wigan Warriors as Brian McClennan’s current selections in the Exiles squad, which will consist of the best Australian and New Zealand players currently playing in Engage Super League. The exciting new concept is something O’Donnell is looking forward to being a part of.

“It is an exciting prospect to be part of the inaugural game,” said the Giants back rower. “I think it is something that will continue for years to come.

“This fixture has the potential to be huge and hopefully the fans get behind it because that is how it will continue to grow each year. I know that whoever is selected in the teams will be giving it their all and trying to make it a massive spectacle and I think it will be a fantastic game.

“It is an honour to be picked in a side with that calibre of players and I think everyone will be excited to play alongside people that you wouldn’t usually get the opportunity to. Aussies don’t normally get the chance to team up with the kiwis and it is something to look forward to.

England will be taking it very seriously; it is a chance for the players to make an impression before the Four Nations in the autumn. Being part of the Exiles, I am definitely going to play the best that I can because not only am I representing myself but also my family and where I am from. It will be a proud moment to play for the Exiles.”

O’Donnell is the coach’s third selection for the Exiles squad and McClennan believes his skills and attributes will add experience and strength to the squad.

“Luke O’Donnell is a fantastic player,” said the Exiles coach.  “He has a massive amount of international experience having played Origin and international footy in recent years.

“I have picked Luke because he will add strength to the back row and will be solid in the middle of the park.  I’m keen to play him at loose forward where he will link up well with the half backs in our offensive play and marshal our defence when we need to.

“Luke is starting to get better and better as he adapts to the English conditions. It will take him a while to acclimatise to the English weather, especially spending the last few years in the tropical conditions of North Queensland. Once he gets some sun on his back he will be flying and I expect him to be at his peak once we face England in June. For me, and for all the fans, that is an exciting prospect.”

In a unique concept to British sport, the final Exiles squad will be chosen in part by the public, with fans having the chance to choose 13 of the 22 squad members to face England. The remaining nine selections will be made by the Exiles coach, Brian McClennan, and his assistant Terry Matterson. Fans can make their selections and collect their £5 discount voucher (redeemable against the cost of a full price adult ticket) online at www.internationalorigin.com

The International Origin Match is an exciting new concept with England taking on the Exiles, a team drawn from the best Australian and New Zealand players currently playing in Engage Super League, on Friday June 10 2011 at Headingley Carnegie Stadium (kick off 8pm).

Pre-purchased tickets for the International Origin match start from £19 for adults and £12 concessions and are available at www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or by contacting the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113. Tickets purchased on the day of the match start from £22 for adults and £15 for concessions.