James Donaldson deal ‘proves’ places are up for grabs at Leeds Rhinos says David Furner

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LEEDS RHINOS boss Dave Furner says trialist James Donaldson’s success in winning a contract is a “good advertisement” to the rest of the squad that he is starting with a blank canvas in 2019.

Ex-Bradford Bulls back-row Donaldson – without a club since being released by Hull KR at the end of last season – secured a one-year deal with Rhinos after impressing in training in recent weeks and during their Boxing Day win over Wakefield Trinity.

Leeds Rhinos head coach David Furner.

Leeds Rhinos head coach David Furner.

It is quite conceivable the 27-year-old could now actually force his way into their squad for the Super League opener at Warrington Wolves in three weeks’ time and cap a fine turnaround in fortunes.

Australian Furner, who arrived to take up the head coach role in November, has now had plenty of time to analyse his players and introduce his own ideas, philosophies and style.

He has reminded them all that places are up for grabs.

Donaldson, for example, will now be challenging the likes of ex-England internationals Brett Ferres, Carl Ablett and Jamie Jones-Buchanan plus Stevie Ward for a back-row spot.

James Donaldson.

James Donaldson.

“We have some really good young players coming through that have impressed me,” said Furner.

“We’ve also got some senior players there that are our leaders.

“Donno’s now come in as someone who has played Super League for a long time, knows what it takes and what it involves.

“What I did like is he got an opportunity to impress. That’s the big thing.

“So, when I look at the team – and I said this from day one – at the moment underneath everyone’s name is a blank sheet.

“So they need to show me what they have got.

“For me, (initially) it was just about getting the coaching side of it and what I want to implement, as in this is how I want to play.

“But I thought it was a good advertisement that Donno was just given an opportunity to train and trial.

“That’s all he was given. But to his credit, he’s then gone and got himself a contract. I like that.”