By STEVE MASCORD
FORMER Australia forward Luke O’Donnell won’t confirm or deny asking his English club for a release and says he’s unsure of the extent of Sydney Roosters’ interest in him.
But his Huddersfield coach is surprised by reports that the Bondi Junction outfit is clearing salary cap space in the hope of signing O’Donnell for this season.
Roosters recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan confirmed the club’s interest. O’Donnell has a year to run at Huddersfield, with a further season’s option.
“There was a little bit of interest there, they spoke to my manager – I think – at the end of last year,” O’Donnell told the Herald at Langtree Park after helping the Giants stun St Helens 40-4 yesterday.
“I don’t know if it’s anything to do with that.
“If they’ve spoken to my manager …. In the last couple of days, I’m not too sure. My manager wouldn’t want to mention too much to me before my first game.
“That’s all news to me. Like I said, there was a little bit of interest there but it hasn’t developed too much more than that.
“I don’t know if someone has pre-empted something happening but nothing is happening as yet.”
Asked if he had asked the Giants for a release, O’Donnell answered: “I can’t really say anything.
“While I’m here, I’m just focused on playing well for the Giants and that’s it. Whatever happens, happens.”
Told of the report, Huddersfield coach Paul Anderson said: “Who’s come up with that?
“Did he look like he wanted a release there (tonight)?”
Asked if O’Donnell was going anywhere, Anderson replied: “Not as we’re stood here at the minute.”
Rooster Tom Symonds is reportedly heading in the opposite direction, with a Super League stint this year on the cards.
Yesterday’s result was a major shock, coming as it did in coach Nathan Brown’s first match in charge of St Helens after leaving Huddersfield in contentious circumstances last season.
Huddersfield fans sung “what’s the score, Browny, what’s the score” throughout the second half.
Meanwhile, Hull captain Gareth Ellis’ foot injury is not as bad as first feared, the club announced. Ellis was hurt in the warm-up for his Hull debut on Friday night and feared being sidelined for six months.
Former Wests Tiger Ellis will have scans on his injured foot early this week.
HUDDERSFIELD 40 (L Cudjoe 2 J McGillvary B Ferres L Patrick L George S Lunt tries D Brough 5 S Grix goals) bt ST HELENS 4 (S Flanagan try). Referee: R Silverwood. Crowd: 12,003
Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
FULLTIME: Last night we were decrying 72-odd points of deficit on the first night of the season. But tonight’s deficit is a different thing – because the rank underdogs were on the right end of it. And then there was the intrigue with it being the first game in charge of Saints for Nathan Brown, who had moved from Huddersfield in the off-season. Danny Brough sat out most of the second half through injury and watch his team-mates continue the slaughter. A stunning result and a real worry for St Helens fans.
78 mins: You missed Leroy Cudjoe pouncing on a loose ball to score, Steve Ganson clearing Jermain McGilvry of a knock-on in the lead-up, and Mark Flanagan finally crossing for Saints. 4-40.
62 min: This afternoon Shaun Lunt was spruiking his website on Twitter, promoting a tipping competition. It’s doubtful any of his disciples tipped this. He just scrambled over from the scrumbase. Thank God they weren’t playing under the experiemental rule where the attacking side has an extra man in that circumstance. BTW it’s freezing. 0-36.
56 min: This is a dead-set rout. Jason Chan centre-kicks for Larne Patrick to score after an in-goal mix-up from Saints defenders. Huddersfield fans are chanting “Browny, what’s the score? Browny, Browny”. Grix goals this time. 0-32.
50 min: Players are often slow to start the second half – and so are bloggers. But no such problem for Danny Br0ugh, whose cutout pass put Luke George over in the corner a short time ago. No idea why Scott grix took the (unsuccessful) conversion attempt. 0-26
HALFTIME: Huddersfield 22 St Helens 0. This is one of the classic examples in rugby league of players having a powerful reason to achieve a result – only to (inevitably) deny it played any role at all. Nathan Brown left Hudderfield last year to join St Helens, and was then given the bum’s rush early. Tonight, his former club is giving him the rounds of the kitchen at halftime in a stunning performance, with four tries in Brown’s home coaching debut. Danny Brough, Luke Robinson, Brett Ferres, Scott Grix all outstanding. Brough added a penalty right on halftime. Obviously … big deficit for Saints to claw back.
31 min: They’re in again! Great lead-up work from Robinson and Scott Grix before Leroy Cudjoe steps inside the cover defence to dot down one-handed without a defender’s touch. Brough goals. Big upset looming. 0-20.
29 min: Mystifying call by video referee Steve Ganson. Luke Robinson studiously avoided lettin the ball touch the turf running out of his own in-goal but Ganson rules a dropout against the Giants. They hold Saints out. 0-14.
27 min: Lovely fella Sia Soliola but he definitely got Luke Robinson late there. Richard Silverwood had ruled “play on” but recanted, with Brough missing a penalty shot from 30 m out. Hit the woodwork. As you were. Saints look to have the chops to pierce Huddersfield at any time but can’t hold the ball. The Giants are showing no sign of dropping in intensity.0-14
15 min: This time Brough goes for goal, at 12-0. It’s not an easy shot but it’s good. Someone just Tweeted “Saints fans want Brown out already!” Stuart Fielden looks as commanding as he has been in half a decade. 0-14.
10 min: Wow. Very simple try to Brett Ferres through some threadbare defence and Brough converts. Apparently Huddersfield have not won in the town of St Helens since 1978. To what extent to we think the Giants are motivated by Nathan Brown’s decision to quit the club? 0-12.
8 min: Should Danny Brough have gone for goal there? Play broke down after he opted for a tap. BTW, this year you’re allowed a quick 22 tap if you are the bloke who caught it. 0-6
5 min: Great to see France-Is-Smelly (conceived in a Paris sewer) in action again. Willie Manu’s fumble allows Jermaine McGilivray to score the first points of the match for the Giants, Danny Brough converting from in front. Despite the mistake, Manu looks dangerous. 0-6.
Pre-kickoff: Good evening everyone. I actually th0ught this game was at 5.45pm – lucky I was two hours early, thinking I was three. Wondered why those team sheets were provided so promptly – most unlike modern coaches! Superb day in Merseyside, clear skies, a little chilly, and unfortunately too many empty seats. Teams are on the field. Interesting song over the PA: “You Fill Up My Senses”. John Denver? There should be a public safety warning about the new refs’ uniforms. I’m sure they have the same effect as strobe lighting.
Final team lists:
SAINTS: Paul Wellens; Tommy Makinson, Jordan Turner, Josh Jones, Francis Meli; Lee Gaskell, Jonny Lomax; Willie Manu, Jon Wilkin, Sia Soliolo, Anthony Laffranchi, James Roby, Josh Perry. Res: Lance Hohaia, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Tony Puletua, Mark Flanagan.
HUDDERSFIELD: Scott Grix; Luke George, Leroy Cudjoe, Joe Wardle, Jermaine McGillivray; Danny Brough (c), Luke Robinson; Luke O’Donnell, Jason Chan, Brett Ferres, Craig Kopczak, Shaun Lunt, Stuart Fielden. Res: Eorl Crabtree, David Faiumu, Larne Patrick, Jamie Cording.
Halftime: Huddersfield 22-0