Declan O’Donnell Signs For Leigh Centurions

Leigh Centurions are delighted to confirm the signing of Ireland international hooker Dec O’Donnell from Wigan Warriors.

The 20-year-old was outstanding in the autumn internationals, scoring a try on his Ireland debut against Scotland in Dublin and going on to also play against both France and Wales.

He signed off his Wigan career with an Academy Under19s grand final victory as the young Warriors defeated Leeds Rhinos 14-6 at the DW Stadium.

Leigh Centurions head coach John Duffy said: “Dec had an opportunity to go and play in France in their Elite League but he shelved his plans to come to Leigh.

“He’s an excellent young hooker and he couldn’t have a better mentor than playing and training alongside Micky Higham.

“Already they are getting on like a house on fire and Micky’s been taking time out to explain the role of a number nine and what he expects of Dec this season.

“Dec’s had an excellent grounding at Wigan and he’s a first-class prospect. He’s derived a tremendous benefit from playing for Ireland and learning off top professionals like Scott Grix and Liam Finn and now he has the opportunity to really kick on with his professional career in a positive environment.”

O’Donnell says that when John Duffy came calling the decision to come to Leigh was a no-brainer.

“John played quite a bit as hooker back in the day and with him and Micky as mentors, it’s a great chance for me,” he says.

“We’ve only had a few training sessions so far but it’s been really enjoyable and I’m learning so much.

“It’s a great club to be at and everyone is friendly and makes you welcome.

“Already I’m learning so much off Micky. You see the way he trains and how hard he pushes himself and you realise why he’s had such a long career at the top of the game.

“He is so dedicated and it’s the stuff he does off the field, away from the club that’s just as important. The way he prepares, the way he trains, what he eats. One hundred percent I couldn’t have come to Leigh Centurions at better time.

“It can only better my career and hopefully I’ll have a big impact on what is looking like being a very enjoyable season.”

Dec’s elder brother John played seven games for Leigh alongside Duffy in 2013 and now plays Sevens Rugby Union for Ireland.

“He’s enjoying it but he looks back with fond memories on his time at Leigh,” he says.

“We owe our Ireland qualification to our grandfather and grandmother who came from County Meath and Sligo respectively.

“My grandma came over to watch me play for Ireland against Wales at Wrexham and though the result didn’t go our way she was very proud.”

O’Donnell came through the Wigan Academy system after playing his early rugby at Wigan St Patrick’s. “As a Wigan lad growing up in the town it’s a dream to represent your hometown club,” he says. “It was a brilliant experience being at the club and I’ve got mates for life.

“But at the end of the season there was nothing there for me and it was time to move on.

“Things have happened quickly. I got a call from Stu Littler to join Ireland’s 35-man squad, did okay in training and then got in the side.

“Then Duffs came in for me and the chance to come to Leigh has been brilliant for me. Duffs and his coaching staff here are brilliant. They’re the sort of people you just want to do your best for every day.

“We’re building a real good side here and training has been full on. It’s going to be fantastic.”

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