Wigan’s James McDonnell to join Leeds Rhinos in 2023

James McDonnell England Knights SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Leeds Rhinos have confirmed the signing of Wigan youngster James McDonnell on a two-year deal from 2023. 

The Wigan-born back-rower or centre signed with Wigan in 2014 and made his way through the club’s scholarship and academy system.

McDonnell went on to play three years in the academy, playing in two Grand Final wins. He made his first team debut in 2020 against St Helens.

He made a further two appearances in 2021.

The England Knights international has spent the majority of 2022 on loan with Leigh in the Championship, making 13 appearances so far and scoring five tries.

James McDonnell on Super League switch

He said: “Leeds is a massive club and I was really pleased to accept their offer. Working with Rohan Smith was a big pull for me. He was the first person I met and had a conversation with and he is the type of coach I want to learn from.

“This will be my first step outside of Wigan but I am looking forward to moving over to Leeds and starting a new chapter. I came over to Headingley a few week ago and Rohan gave me a tour around the stadium, which is world class.

“The good thing for me is that I know a lot of the lads from England camps. So, I am not going blind into a new environment because I have already got some good mates there.

“You can see already the difference that Rohan is having on the squad. and this is a new start for me. I want to have success with the Rhinos. The club has a massive fan base and hopefully we can give them plenty to celebrate.

“Moving away from my home town club was a massive decision for me. I have loved every minute at Wigan and feel proud and privileged to have played for them. It was hard to say no to the stay but I knew this opportunity was too good to turn down.”

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About Josh McAllister 1679 Articles
Journalist. Joined the Love Rugby League team full time at the start of 2022 having been a freelance reporter for several years. Previously media manager for Swinton and Rochdale.

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