James Donaldson pens a new two-year deal at Leeds Rhinos

James Donaldson.
James Donaldson.
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TOUGH-TACKLING FORWARD James Donaldson is staying at Leeds Rhinos.

The 28-year-old has agreed a new two-year contract which will keep him at Emerald Headingley until the end of the 2021 Betfred Super League season.

James Donaldson chases down Albert Kelly.

James Donaldson chases down Albert Kelly.

Donaldson joined Rhinos on a one-year deal at the start of the current campaign – which ends tomorrow night – after impressing during a trial period at the club.

The Cumbrian back-rower has played 24 times for Rhinos in 2019, making 513 tackles with a 95 per cent success rate and scoring one try.

All but three of his appearances have come as a substitute, but the former Wath Brown Hornets amateur has impressed with his work-rate and willingness to fill in as an emergency front-rower at times.

“I am delighted to have agreed a new deal with the club,” said Donaldson who is included in Rhinos’ initial 19-man squad for the visit of Warrington Wolves tomorrow evening.

“It has been a tough season, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the club and I am looking forward to the next two seasons.”

Donaldson spent four seasons with Hull Kingston Rovers, making 42 Super League appearances and helping them gain promotion from the Championship, but was not offered a new contract at the end of last season.

He began his career at Bradford Bulls, playing 73 times in the top-flight from 2009 and 2014.

Rhinos’ director of rugby Kevin Sinfield reckons Donaldson has made a strong impact during a difficult year for the team.

He said: “It is great news James has agreed to sign a new deal with the club.

“When he first arrived at the Rhinos he showed a great attitude and commitment to the club despite initially joining on trial.

“He has become a popular member of our squad and been a key, experienced member of the group.

“I am looking forward to seeing him develop after a full off-season at the club.”

Donaldson is the first player to agree a new deal since Richard Agar was named coach for 2020 earlier this week.