LUKE O’DONNELL can’t wait to make his Huddersfield Giants debut.
The 30-year-old Australia Test back-row forward will play in the claret and gold for the first time in Eorl Crabtree’s testimonial clash against Hull KR at the Galpharm Stadium on Sunday (2.30).
With the former North Queensland Cowboys star the Giants’ major Super League signing for this season, O’Donnell is aware he will be a focus of some attention.
But the experienced State of Origin campaigner is relishing the opportunity to show the English public exactly what he can do.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” he declared.
“For a start, it’s going to be my first game since early September, because I missed the last four games of last season with a knee injury.
“But it’s fully recovered now, and it’s going to be a fantastic feeling to step out there on the field this weekend.
“I’m sure there will be one or two nerves – I do get a bit nervous before games – and that’s partly down to the pressure I’ll be putting on myself.
“I want to hit the ground running and show everyone straight away exactly what I can do. I think it’s really important to put in a good, solid first game here.”
O’Donnell knows, however, that it could take him a few games to reproduce the form that made him a regular in the Kangaroos set-up.
“Sunday is obviously the first time I’ll have played with my new teammates, so that makes it a pretty important game for me,” he added.
“This is the first chance I’ve had to get used to the plays and calls on the competitive field, as well as see how the other players play.
“When you first come to a club it’s a pretty steep learning curve, so I hope that in the next few weeks I’ll feel a lot more comfortable working within the squad.
“Pre-season has been tough and I’m learning all the time, but the key is transferring all the hard work over the past few months onto the field.
“But that’s a challenge that really excites me.”
O’Donnell is expected to start tomorrow’s game in the second row, alongside fellow Test forward David Fa’alogo.
They will be part of the strongest Giants side available, with Danny Kirmond (finger), Shaun Lunt (hernia) and Luke Robinson (shoulder) the only players to be missing out. Kirmond and Lunt should be available a week later.
But there will be first run-outs since featuring for England in last autumn’s Four Nations tournament for Crabtree, new club captain Kevin Brown, Leroy Cudjoe and Darrell Griffin.
Also included in the Huddersfield squad of 25 are seven players who figured in last week’s 30-16 pre-season defeat at Batley.
They are Jon Molloy, Jacob Fairbank, Josh Griffin, Elliot Hodgson, Jamie Cording, Gregg McNally and Joe Wardle.
Admission prices for the game are £15 for adults, £12 OAPs and students and £5 for two to 16 years.