donnelly-headshotJetstar Gold Coast Titans prop Ian Donnelly is hoping to take another step towards reigniting his first grade career this weekend, on the very soil at which it began a decade ago.

Donnelly, who broke into first grade as a teenager playing for Lismore-based club Marist Brothers, will return to Lismore’s Oakes Oval for tomorrow night’s pre-season trial match against the New Zealand Warriors.

After a lean 2008 season with the Jetstar Titans, Donnelly said the trial against the Warriors would be another chance for him to continue to work towards his goal of breaking back into the NRL this season.

The Ballina junior, 28, has fond memories of Oakes Oval, having won a premiership there with Marist Brothers before he moved to Sydney to chase his NRL dream.

“I think the last time I played there in 1999 was when we won the grand final in all three grades that day,’’ recalled Donnelly.

“I played in both the Under-18s and the first grade grand final.’’

Donnelly will come off the interchange bench tomorrow night, working in tandem with starting props Luke Bailey and Matt White, along with veteran Brad Meyers.

With the competition for spots in the front row heating up ahead of the Titans’ season-opening clash against Newcastle at Skilled Park on March 15, Donnelly said he still felt like he had something to prove.

“I’m trying to put last year behind me as best as I can so I put the onus on myself by coming into training in the pre-season with a new attitude and trying to better myself and the people around me,’’ said Donnelly.

“The way I look at it, everyone is still competing for spots. But I’m trying to focus on myself and at the moment I’m still trying to prove myself and offer something to the team.

“I thought I had a good pre-season out on training paddock. In the first trial game against the Broncos it was a chance to blow out the cobwebs and just get the little things right.

“I took that into the Darwin game (against Cronulla) and it was more of what I wanted to do in that game.’’

The Jetstar Titans will clash with the Warriors at 7.30pm (NSW time), while the club’s younger stars will do battle in the NYC under-20s curtain raiser at 3.50pm.

Queensland Cup feeder clubs Tweed Heads and Ipswich go head-to-head in the other curtain raiser from 5.30pm.

For tickets, contact the Lismore Workers Club on (02) 6621 7401.


NRL: 1 William Zillman 2 Jordan Atkins 3 Josh Graham 4 Brett Delaney 5 Esi Tonga 6 Mat Rogers 7 Brad Davis 8 Luke Bailey (c) 9 Nathan Friend 10 Matthew White 11 Anthony Laffranchi 12 Mark Minichiello 13 Luke O’Dwyer. Interchange: 14 Ian Donnelly 15 Brad Meyers 16 Bodene Thompson 17 Shannon Walker 18 Ian Lacey 19 Will Matthews 20 David Mead 21 Sam Tagataese. Coach: John Cartwright.

NYC Under-20s: 1 Jamie Dowling 2 Matthew Hundy 3 Lachlan Creighton 4 Kevin Gordon 5 Philip Dumelow 6 Jordan Rankin 7 Cody Walker 8 Shaun Spring 9 Kayne Lawton 10 Siosaia Vave 11 Kurt Foggo 12 Sebastian Davies 13 Steve Gillett. Interchange: 14 Fred Tila 15 Luke Page 16 Sam Howe 17 Andrew Battese 18 Chris Bloomfield 19 Jake Cooley 20 Anthony Flores 21 Luke Dumas 22 Tim James 23 Josh Dutton 24 Dan Sleeman 25 Jy Hitchcox. Coach: Steve Murphy.