FORMER Junior Kangaroos forward Kyle O’Donnell hopes to cap the biggest week of his career by making his NRL debut for the Knights against South Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
O’Donnell will join Knights teammates Marvin Filipo and Josh Mantellato in the NSW Cup representative team, coached by Knights NSW Cup coach Rip Taylor, to play Queensland Residents in the curtain-raiser to the State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
The younger brother of former NSW and Australian back-rower Luke O’Donnell, 21-year-old Kyle was named yesterday on a five-man bench for Newcastle’s game against the Rabbitohs.
Knights coach Wayne Bennett nominated O’Donnell as 18th man alongside hooker Chris Adams and forwards Zane Tetevano, Adam Cuthbertson and Alex McKinnon.
If he makes the final 17, O’Donnell, who is off contract at the end of the season and desperate to prove to Bennett he is worth re-signing, would become the 236th player to represent the Knights in first grade.
A Greystanes Devils junior from Parramatta’s feeder area, O’Donnell joined the Knights from Cronulla at the end of 2010. He represented the Junior Kangaroos from the Sharks that year.
Queensland winger Darius Boyd was named to return at fullback for Kevin Naiqama, who was one of the stars of Newcastle’s 20-12 victory over the Eels last Saturday.
Souths coach Michael Maguire named a 19-man squad including Queensland fullback Greg Inglis, prop Sam Burgess and dumped Maroons forward Dave Taylor in the starting side.