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Departure of Leigh Leopards star confirmed as new club announce his signing

Leigh Leopards

The Leigh Leopards squad will have a very different look in 2025 as the club transitions away from the stars who earned them promotion back to the Super League. Several members of their 2023 Challenge Cup winning side will leave the club ahead of the 2025 season. 

The departure of John Asiata, who will join Hull FC, was the first big name to announce their exit from the Leopards. Reports suggest that Oliver Holmes and Zak Hardaker will join Asiata in crossing the Pennines. Tom Amone will leave the club and return to the NRL, having already agreed a contract with the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Other key players such as Lachlan Lam have also been linked with a move away, with nothing formal confirmed as yet. However, Leigh did receive a boost when head coach, Adrian Lam, knocked back reported interest from Hull to sign an extended deal with the club.

But Lam will have to plan for life without another of his big names, as it has been confirmed that they will return to the NRL.

QUIZ: Can you name these 10 former Leigh players?

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Leigh Leopards man on the move

Credit: Imago Images

Kai O’Donnell joined the Leigh Leopards from the Canberra Raiders in 2022. He way a key part of the Leigh side which won promotion from the Championship that season. He also played an important role last season which saw the Leopards lift the Challenge Cup and break into Super League’s top four.

His strong performances for Leigh had caught the eye of NRL sides, and reports began to emerge that O’Donnell would return to Australia when his contract expired at the end of 2024. Now his next move has been confirmed. O’Donnell will join the North Queensland Cowboys for 2025. A North Queensland statement confirming the deal reads:

“Proserpine Brahmans junior Kai O’Donnell has signed a two-year contract with the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys for the 2025 and 2026 seasons.

“A former member of the Cowboys Academy system, O’Donnell broke into the NRL with Canberra in 2020, appearing in four games for the Raiders.

“The powerfully built second-rower moved to the UK in 2022 where he has spent the previous three seasons with Leigh, helping the Leopards win promotion to the Super League in his first season.

“O’Donnell has scored 23 tries in his 62 appearances for the Leopards.”

Cowboys pleased to bring O’Donnell home

Leigh Leopards

Credit: Imago Images

Speakinhg of O’Donnell’s move to the Cowboys, their General Manager of Football, Michael Luck, confirmed his delight at the capture. He believes that O’Donnell will strengthen their options in the back row. He also knows the club, having been part of their academy previously.

“Kai will add depth and experience to our back row stocks,” Luck said.

“It’s always great to bring a North Queenslander home. Kai was part of our Academy in the same class as Reuben Cotter and has always been a highly talented player.

“We believe he will be a fantastic addition to our squad for 2025 and beyond.”

Leigh remain in the hunt for a Super League play-off place, however, their chances were dented by defeat against Hull KR at the weekend. Leigh currently occupy ninth place in the table, seven points behind Salford Red Devils in sixth place.

The Leopards have played one game fewer than Salford, ,although their game in hand is against the Wigan Warrriors. They can afford few slip ups in the second half of the season.

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