Suspensions a factor in O’Donnell’s NRL exit
FORMER North Queensland and NSW enforcer Luke O’Donnell is glad to see the back of the National Rugby League judiciary as he gets to grips with life in the Super League with Huddersfield.
O’Donnell left the Cowboys as the most suspended player in NRL history, spending a total of 29 weeks on the sidelines since 2000.
The last of his 10 bans was for a dangerous throw on Queensland winger Darius Boyd during the second State of Origin clash in Sydney last year that sparked an all-in brawl.
The former Test star admits his disi l l usionment with the judiciary system was part of the reason for his decision to start afresh in the bitterly cold Yorkshire winter.
‘‘ The way the system works in Australia is very harsh if you’ve had a couple of penalties,’’ O’Donnell said.
‘‘ It’s a loading system and it’s crazy how it works. You can be charged with a careless high tackle three years before and then charged with a dangerous throw which is something completely different and you cop a loading. It’s pretty silly.
‘‘ I didn’t enjoy my footy at times because of all the suspensions and it was really disappointing considering I work so hard and then come game time you feel like you have a target on your head.
‘‘ It’s good just to get away from pressures like that. Everything is scrutinised so heavily over there.’’
O’Donnell left behind him t e mper a t u r e s o f 3 3 C i n Townsville in November and had to cope with a freezing minus 13C on his arrival in Yorkshire.
And he admits he is still getting to grips with the difficult playing conditions.
‘‘ At Castleford it was probably the heaviest pitch I’ve ever played on in my life,’’ O ’ D o n n e l l s a i d o f Huddersfield’s second-round match against the Tigers which they lost 18-12.
‘ ‘ I ’ v e p l a y e d o n s o me muddy pitches in Australia but that was really tough going.
‘‘ It’s something I’m going to have to get used to in the first couple of months over here.
‘ ‘ T h e b o y s s a i d t h a t ’ s usually the way.
‘‘ At first you play a fair bit of wet-weather footy and then it dries up and speeds up a lot more. I’ve all that to look forward to.’’