Luke O'Donnell

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Luke O'Donnell
O'Donnell in 2008
Personal information
Full name Luke O'Donnell
Nickname Brains
Born (1980-10-22) 22 October 1980 (age 36)
Liverpool, New South Wales, Australia
Playing information
Height 185 cm (6 ft 1 in)[1]
Weight 101 kg (15 st 13 lb)[1]
Position Lock, Second-row, Prop
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1999 Balmain Tigers 3 0 0 0 0
2000–03 Wests Tigers 48 3 0 0 12
2004–10 North Queensland Cowboys 117 23 0 0 92
2011–12 Huddersfield Giants 27 2 0 0 8
2013 Sydney Roosters 20 1 0 0 4
Total 215 29 0 0 116
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2006–10 New South Wales 5 0 0 0 0
2005–06 Australia 11 0 0 0 0
2005–10 NSW City 3 0 0 0 0
2010 NRL All Stars 1 0 0 0 0
Source: RLP

Luke O'Donnell (born 22 October 1980 in Liverpool, New South Wales) is a former professional rugby league footballer of the 2000s and 2010s. An Australian international and New South Wales State of Origin representative forward, he previously played his club football in Australia with National Rugby League teams the Balmain Tigers, Wests Tigers, North Queensland Cowboys and Sydney Roosters, with whom he featured in the club's 13th premiership. O'Donnell also played for two seasons in Super League with English club Huddersfield Giants. His younger brother Kyle O'Donnell also became an NRL footballer.

Early years[edit]

Born and raised in Liverpool, New South Wales, O'Donnell attended Ulladulla High School playing for the Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs in the Group 7 Rugby League from 1996 to 1998.[2] O'Donnell is married to Tania and has two daughters. He posed naked for the charity calendar Gods of Football. After retiring in 2013, O'Donnell has opened a chicken shop named "Tub & Kilo" in Rosebery, Sydney.[3]

Playing career[edit]


O'Donnell made his first grade debut with the Balmain Tigers on 31 July 1999. He was sin binned on his debut match, a loss to the Sydney City Roosters at Leichhardt Oval. O'Donnell made three appearances off the bench during the 1999 season, all losses.[4]

From 2000, O'Donnell played 4 seasons with the Wests Tigers, playing in 48 games. However, in the second game of the 2003 season O'Donnell received an 11-week suspension for a late, high tackle that left Michael Monaghan with a broken jaw,[5] and played no further games with the Tigers. At the time, it was the second longest suspension in NRL history.[5]


O'Donnell joined the North Queensland Cowboys from the 2004 season, and that season was named the club's player of the year.[6] Also in 2004 he was in the first Cowboys team to make the semi-finals. The following year O'Donnell played from at second row in the North Queensland Cowboys' first ever Grand Final in 2005 which they lost to his former club, the Wests Tigers. He was then chosen for the 2005 Tri-Nations team.

Early in the 2007 NRL season, O'Donnell was involved in a "wishbone" tackle that pulled all his hamstring muscles on his left leg away from his pelvic bone, leaving him unable to play for the rest of the season.[7][8][9] The opposition players involved, including Liam Fulton and Bronson Harrison were not charged over the incident.

In 2008, O'Donnell received a 7-week suspension relating to 2 separate striking charges and abusing a sideline official.[10]

In August 2008, O'Donnell was named in the preliminary 46-man Kangaroos squad for the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.[11][12] He was selected for City in the City vs Country match on 8 May 2009.[13] Later that month, he was named in the 17 man squad to represent New South Wales in the opening State of Origin match on 3 June 2009, in Melbourne.[14] Also in 2009 he was named the Cowboys' player of the year for the second time.

In July 2010 it was announced that O'Donnell had signed a four-year deal to play for Super League team Huddersfield Giants.[15] During his final NRL season he was selected to play the NRL All Stars Game for the first and only time in his career and was banned for three weeks following an ugly incident in Game II of the 2010 State of Origin series where he dangerously tackled Queensland's Darius Boyd and appeared to headbutt Dave Taylor.[16] Team-mate Mitchell Pearce said of the incident,"I thought he was going to eat him!" [17]

O'Donnell was sent off twice during his time with the Cowboys, once in 2006 (playing against the New Zealand Warriors in a match the Cowboys lost 26-0) and once in 2008 (in a match against Penrith which the Cowboys lost in golden point extra time). O'Donnell left the Cowboys as the most suspended player in NRL history, having spent 29 games suspended. "It was really disappointing considering I work so hard and then come game time you feel like you have a target on your head," he later said.[18]


Luke O'Donnell joined old Cowboys' teammate David Faiumu at Huddersfield. He was selected for the Exiles squad for the Rugby League International Origin Match against England at Headingley on 10 June 2011.[19]


On 14 February 2013 it was announced that Luke has signed with the Sydney Roosters on a 1-year deal.[20] He played only 3 times before being suspended for breaching the Code of Conduct.[21]

He featured in the Roosters' premiership winning side at the end of the season. He then announced his retirement from the game on 12 December 2013.[22]





  1. ^ a b "Giants to Boast Biggest Pack". Huddersfield Giants. Huddersfield Giants. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  2. ^ "Luke makes origin team". Milton Ulladulla Times Newspaper. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  3. ^ "Natural progression? Retired Sydney Roosters player Luke O'Donnell begins new career in chook shop". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "Rugby League Project – Luke O'Donnell". Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Brad Walter (27 March 2003). "NRL throws the Good Book at O'Donnell". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  6. ^ Honours at
  7. ^ Matt Marshall (29 November 2007). "Luke O'Donnell says wishbone tackle should be banned". Courier Mail. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  8. ^ "O'Donnell out for season". Courier Mail. 10 April 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  9. ^ Matt Marshall and Karl deKroo (18 March 2008). "Cowboys' O'Donnell to face Tigers wishbone trio". Courier Mail. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  10. ^ Karl deKroo (4 June 2008). "Cowboys' Luke O'Donnell cops seven match suspension". Courier Mail. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  11. ^ Liam FitzGibbon (1 August 2008). "Surprises in Kangaroos squad". "Fox Sports News (Australia)". Retrieved 2 August 2008. 
  12. ^ "Veteran Lockyer named in Australian squad". International Herald Tribune. 1 August 2008. Retrieved 2 August 2008. 
  13. ^ Balym, Todd (3 May 2009). "Blues halfback duel in two as Mitchell Pearce misses selection". Fox Sports. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  14. ^ Fitzgibbon, Liam (25 May 2009). "NSW selectors go with form and not reputation for Origin opener". Fox Sports News (Australia). Retrieved 30 May 2009. 
  15. ^ "Giants land international bank row star". Huddersfield Giants. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 22 July 2010. 
  16. ^ Andrew Webster (18 June 2010). "Luke O'Donnell lays blame on Maroons". Herald Sun. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  17. ^ Chris Barrett (5 July 2010). "Pearce says Blues must take simple approach to conquer Queensland". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 
  18. ^ "O'Donnell relieved to be away from NRL". One HD. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  19. ^ "Warrington dominate Exiles picks for Origin fixture". 4 May 2011. Retrieved 4 May 2011. 
  20. ^ "Sydney Roosters on a 1 year deal". 14 February 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ Luke O'Donnell calls time on his NRL career,, 12 December 2013

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