James Donaldson triumphed over adversity at Bradford Bulls but Odsal has been a school of hard knocks for back-rower

HAPPY DAYS: Donaldson, centre, celebrates a try with fellow Bulls young guns Danny Addy and Tom Olbison, but there were as many downs as ups during his time at Odsal, when injuries curtailed his progress

HAPPY DAYS: Donaldson, centre, celebrates a try with fellow Bulls young guns Danny Addy and Tom Olbison, but there were as many downs as ups during his time at Odsal, when injuries curtailed his progress

First published in Sport by

AT the start of last season, James Donaldson was so far down the pecking order that even the Bulls’ Academy players were ahead of him.

The highly-regarded back-rower had been forced to wait until November 2012 before being offered a one-year deal.

A career-best 19 Super League appearances last term earned him another incentive-based one-year deal for 2014.

Donaldson has grown accustomed to rising to the challenges laid down in front of him.

The Cumbrian showed rare fortitude to bounce back from two serious knee injuries and was rewarded for his resilience this week with a two-year deal at Hull KR.

“I’ve had to fight for my place at Bradford,” said the 22-year-old loose forward.

“At the start of last season I was at the bottom of the pecking order.

“Even with some of the Academy lads, Franny (Cummins) told me I was below them, so I’ve had to prove my point.

“It has been tough but I always knew I had it in me to get back to where I was before my injuries.

“Hopefully I can really kick on now at Hull KR because I’m just starting to feel like I’m getting back to where I was. I also feel I’ve got a lot more to give.”

Jimmy Lowes spoke this week of his bitter disappointment at losing Donaldson, who joined the Bulls as a 16-year-old.

Donaldson was offered a deal to stay but admitted: “I did consider Bradford’s offer but I’ve always wanted to play in Super League – it has been my goal since I started playing rugby.

“I stayed with that and I got an opportunity with Hull KR.

“I met (Rovers coach) Chris Chester on Sunday morning, had a chat with him and got a feel for what he wants from me and where he sees me in the team. That sold it to me really.

“I’ll hopefully play loose forward there but there are a lot of players in that position, so there will be competition for places. I’ll just have to prove myself over there as well.”

Donaldson, who could effectively replace Jamie Langley in the Robins’ squad as their loose forward, will commute to Hull from Leeds.

“I texted Langers asking for his advice and asked him a few questions about travelling over from West Yorkshire,” added Donaldson, who attracted interest from Wigan before Hull KR stepped in.

“I think Bradford will be a club I will always support. I’ve made a lot of good friends here and that will be the hardest part.

“But I’ll just have to sit on my own and put emotions aside – I’ve come to my decision and that’s it now.

“I’ll do what I normally do for the rest of the season, which is to give 110 per cent out on the field.

“I want to do that for the club because I owe them that.”

Donaldson has seen men who he progressed through the ranks with, such as Elliott Whitehead and John Bateman, depart Bradford and prosper.

Few would bet against him doing something similar in east Hull.

“I came through the system with those boys and I want to be up there with them,” said Donaldson.

“That’s what I’m striving for – not necessarily to be an England player but being a regular player and being a main part of that team like they are now. England or whatever else will take care of itself down the line.”

Comments (4)

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10:28am Sat 16 Aug 14

Solomon Grundy says...

I wish him well and always thought he had a great player in him, just a shame it won't be with us, and if he'd stayed our chance of getting straight back up would be stronger but there we are. Good luck James & come back to us in 2 years!
I wish him well and always thought he had a great player in him, just a shame it won't be with us, and if he'd stayed our chance of getting straight back up would be stronger but there we are. Good luck James & come back to us in 2 years! Solomon Grundy
  • Score: 7

8:46pm Sat 16 Aug 14

raisemeup says...

Imagine someone telling you that you weren't at the level of the juniors.
If that stuck with him, no wonder he took the first opportunity to get out to pastures new...I feel he is a player with untapped potential, and it's a great pity that Bradford and JL couldn't be the team or the coach to realize that potential.
I am disappointed but understand how he feels that recognition for any call up to any national team will only happen at SL level.
I do wish him all the luck in the world, and perhaps we'll get Jamie Langley back in some capacity in his place, he could do a great job with our youngsters.
Imagine someone telling you that you weren't at the level of the juniors. If that stuck with him, no wonder he took the first opportunity to get out to pastures new...I feel he is a player with untapped potential, and it's a great pity that Bradford and JL couldn't be the team or the coach to realize that potential. I am disappointed but understand how he feels that recognition for any call up to any national team will only happen at SL level. I do wish him all the luck in the world, and perhaps we'll get Jamie Langley back in some capacity in his place, he could do a great job with our youngsters. raisemeup
  • Score: 0

8:22am Sun 17 Aug 14

fedupwiththeBS says...

Goes to show that there was a lot of player mismanagement going on at Odsal under the past regime along with the shame that was the previous board.

You have to wonder if we had had someone like JL at the helm instead of FC we might have been in a stronger on filed position and retained a number of the starts that we have lost to other clubs?
Goes to show that there was a lot of player mismanagement going on at Odsal under the past regime along with the shame that was the previous board. You have to wonder if we had had someone like JL at the helm instead of FC we might have been in a stronger on filed position and retained a number of the starts that we have lost to other clubs? fedupwiththeBS
  • Score: 4

12:18pm Sun 17 Aug 14

Paul from Idle says...

Good luck to him...he was too small to ever kick on and become a great player, a good big un will always beat a good small un and if JL wanted to keep him he would still be at Odsal.
Good luck to him...he was too small to ever kick on and become a great player, a good big un will always beat a good small un and if JL wanted to keep him he would still be at Odsal. Paul from Idle
  • Score: -5

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