Match-fit O'Donnell gets dream call-up - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Match-fit O'Donnell gets dream call-up

By Steve Jancetic 11/10/2005 06:59:45 PM Comments (0)

Australian rugby league coach Wayne Bennett has handed North Queensland second rower Luke O'Donnell a Test debut in a bid to give his underdone forward pack some much-needed match fitness.

O'Donnell and Melbourne winger Matt King were the new faces named in the Kangaroos line-up for Saturday night's Tri-Nations series opener against New Zealand at Telstra Stadium.

In other selection surprises, Brisbane's Brent Tate edged out Matt Cooper for a berth in the centres alongside St George Illawarra dangerman Mark Gasnier, while Andrew Ryan was preferred to Bulldogs teammate Willie Mason on the bench.

O'Donnell's call-up to the starting line-up completes a mixed couple of weeks for the 24-year-old following the disappointment of the Cowboys' grand final loss to Wests Tigers just over a week ago.

Ironically it was that grand final defeat which tipped the selection odds in O'Donnell's favour.

"The one thing I know about him is he's the most match fit forward we've got, that's important to us," Bennett said.

"Just getting the balance right and the type of team we were looking for, he kind of fitted that mould and he's got an opportunity now to do something."

Bennett said he wasn't too concerned about the match fitness of his forward pack, claiming the Kiwis would be similarly underdone on Saturday night.

Of the Kangaroos forward pack, Craig Fitzgibbon and Danny Buderus would not have played a match for six weeks by the time Saturday night's game rolled around. Ben Kennedy (five) and Petero Civoniceva and Steve Price (both four) would also be relatively light on for recent match play, as would bench forwards Trent Waterhouse and Andrew Ryan (both six weeks). Only O'Donnell and Dragons prop Jason Ryles (three weeks) went deep into the playoffs with their respective sides.

"My experiences last year were that the grand finalists were certainly a lot tireder than the rest of the squad," Bennett said.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news