Papua New Guinea star Nene Macdonald ready for fresh challenge with Salford Red Devils following Leeds Rhinos departure

George Riley
Nene Macdonald Salford Red Devils Alamy

Nene Macdonald (left) has joined Salford on a four-year contract | Alamy

Papua New Guinea star Nene Macdonald has revealed he turned down offers in the NRL in favour of a deal with Salford Red Devils.

The towering centre left Leeds Rhinos by mutual consent last season having returned home to Australia on paternity leave, with Leeds coach Rohan Smith stating he would have been surprised to see the star return to the British game.

But having swiftly penned a four-year deal with the Red Devils, Macdonald says that it was always his plan to come back, despite receiving several rival offers from both NRL and Super League clubs.

“There is always two sides to a story, we came to an agreement to go our separate ways, I wanted to go home for the birth of my child and I can’t say much more than that,” revealed Macdonald. 

“The intention was always to come back, I had a contract and had to abide by it. I don’t want to be seen as someone who says they will do something and then not do it.

“I signed a long contract (with Leeds) and I thought I was coming back to it. Then a few things happened and I’m at Salford.”

Nene Macdonald outlines reasons behind his move to Salford Red Devils

The former Leigh star says a change of perspective was behind his decision to commit to Salford, despite offers to move elsewhere.

“If the opportunity for NRL came up then I would have done that before I signed with Leeds,” he admits.

“I had that opportunity to go back to the NRL for this season but the length of contract wasn’t what I wanted so I decided to stay with Leeds. I then went home and was coming back and ended up signing four years with Salford.

“I was thinking more family-orientated, I wanted to solidify a spot on a longer-term deal to know my family was going to be alright.

“I would love to go back and play in the NRL, but a year or two years is not long enough. A few Super League clubs rang my manager, but Salford wanted me originally when I first came over, and having Krisnan (Inu) there, I had an allegiance.

“I don’t regret the Leeds move, and I’m really enjoying it here at Salford now. When I was younger, I was happy to go wherever as I was living free, just playing footy and getting paid.

“Having kids has changed my perspective and I would rather sign four years or three years minimum and know where I am living and what I am getting and that my family is sweet.”

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Papua New Guinea star excited to work under Paul Rowley: ‘I think he brings the best out of people’

Another factor behind Macdonald’s move, was the Salford head coach Paul Rowley, with his personable style of management, and entertaining brand of rugby.

“Rowls is a happy person who loves a joke and I think he brings the best out of people,” said Macdonald.

“He is very understanding of people and I love their style of football, an old-school 90s footy, reggae footy, offloading and enjoying the game. This era is more wrestle, contact and slow it down. Salford is about having fun. 

“I am here to win comps and the whole team should be thinking that. With a bit of luck and a good run, any team can lift that trophy.

“I think we are on our way there and I personally think we can get that trophy this year, but there needs to be another 20 men as well, then we will be getting that trophy.”

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