Sus­pen­sions a fac­tor in O’Don­nell’s NRL exit

Townsville Bulletin - - Rugby League -

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.’’

Luke O’Don­nell

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