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New contract for Leeds forward

Leeds Rhinos forward James Donaldson, 29, has agreed a new two year contract extension with the club that will keep him at Emerald Headingley until the end of the 2023 Betfred Super League season. 

Donaldson, who joined the Rhinos from Hull KR at the start of the 2019 season, was due to be out of contract at the end of the current season.

One of the most popular members of the Rhinos squad, Donaldson made 16 appearances last year including lifting the Challenge Cup at Wembley.

Commenting on his new deal, Donaldson said, “I am over the moon to have it sorted. It has been a journey to get to this point and I think I am different player now than when I first arrived at the club. I am really excited about what the future holds for me at the Rhinos now.

“The main thing for me was to get my contract sorted as soon as possible so I can keep my head down and not have to worry about my future. With a new baby here now in my son Tobias, it secures my future for him too and that’s why this deal was massive for me,” added the new dad.

Donaldson originally came to the Rhinos on a trial having been left without a club to play for at the end of the 2018 season. He admits it has been a winding road to this point but that he is now looking forward to the future in positive mood. He added, “It has been an incredible journey for me at Leeds. Those tough first few months is a blur now and I must say thank you to Richard Agar and Kevin Sinfield. They believed in me and have given me the opportunity to play at this great club. Leeds is my home now and I wear the badge with pride.

“I think you always have to believe in yourself. I knew that I still could offer something to a Super League club when I arrived at Emerald Headingley back in 2019, you just need that one person to believe in you and your hard work can take care of the rest,” added Donaldson.

The forward is now focussed on the new Betfred Super League season, which the Rhinos kick off this Saturday against Wakefield Trinity at Emerald Headingley. After a full pre-season he is looking to start his and the team’s campaign in positive fashion this weekend. He commented, “I think I am playing the best rugby of my career now. I believe in the last year I have really managed to kick on, I have worked hard on my skills and I think in the next few years, the Leeds fans will see the best of me. I have a lot more to give on the field and hopefully things will continue to get better.

“Pre-season has gone really well and I have had an opportunity to work on the weaknesses in my game. That will hopefully make me a better and more complete player for the team.  I am really excited about the new season. There are some great players who have come into our camp and the competition as a whole which will have boosted the standards for everyone. I think we are ready to go onto the next level this season. Our combinations are coming along nicely and we want to go on and win some more silverware.”

Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Richard Agar commented, “We are delighted that James has agreed a new deal. He is an exemplary professional who has been a great addition to our squad over the last two years. He is someone who works incredibly hard on his own game and is a great example for our younger players. I am looking forward to seeing how he continues to improve in the years ahead.”

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