Nene MacDonald on why he left Leigh Leopards for Leeds Rhinos and aims to lift Super League Grand Final

THERE had been one name in the Championship that struck fear into the hearts of opponents in 2022 and that was Nene MacDonald.

A blockbusting centre with the ability to swat off would-be tacklers with relative ease, the Papua New Guinea international tore the second tier up with the Leigh Leopards.

After such an impressive year, in which MacDonald helped the Lancashire club earn promotion, the 28-year-old made a move to the Leeds Rhinos. Here’s why.

“I had to weigh up the decision where I wanted to be as a player and the best place for me and my family,” MacDonald told League Express.

“I will always choose my family, and I wanted to come to a bigger club and try something different to be part of a club that can do great things this year.

“Taking home the Grand Final trophy, it’s a big goal of mine. Obviously learning about the club and the history, all those decisions came together as one and I spoke with some boys already here, it’s a great club. It was a collective of things that influenced my choice.”

To say MacDonald has settled into his surroundings is an understatement, with the centre enjoying every bit of the move to Headingley so far.

“It’s been very easy from day one. The boys have made me feel very welcome. I’ve been here a few months but it feels like I’ve been here two years,” MacDonald continued.

“Everyone is being a collective and that shows how a club should be successful – it’s got to come from the ground up from the academy, staff, physios to the head coach.

“Everyone knows each other and everyone is very friendly and that’s what makes a successful club.”

Of course, being such a brilliant player for Leigh in what was a crucial year for the club back in 2022, the Leopards hold a special place in MacDonald’s heart but he cannot wait to take them on in 2023.

“At Leigh, I had a great time, obviously you’re having a good time when you’re winning each week and winning comfortably. We all became very close there so it was a really tough decision to leave.

“I hope they have a successful year and I hope they go well enough to stay up now.

“I get excited about playing a former team. I think it’s a big challenge and I always want to score a try against my ex-teammates. They are usually after you on the field but love you off the field.”