O'Donnell set for Roosters debut but SBW in doubt
Ready to go … Luke O'Donnell in action for Huddersfield. Photo: AFP
SYDNEY Roosters' latest recruit Luke O'Donnell met his new teammates on Monday and may play in Saturday night's Foundation Cup but there are doubts whether Sonny Bill Williams will also make his NRL return in the match against Wests Tigers.
O'Donnell's arrival from England, where he has already played several games for Huddersfield, coincided with the departure of backrower Anthony Cherrington to Penrith.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said there was a chance O'Donnell would play in the annual pre-season clash at Allianz Stadium, but he was less sure about Williams.
''He has just got [off] the flight so he will do a bit of running and train with us on Wednesday and we will see how he is,'' Robinson said of O'Donnell.
''He has already played but it would be nice to get him into our structures and that sort of stuff for 20 or 30 minutes.''
Williams had been keen to get one match under his belt before the NRL premiership opener against South Sydney on March 7 but Robinson said he would take no risks with the All Blacks star after he joined the club last week following his February 9 fight against Francois Botha.
''If his tackling is really good and his strength is really good in the next couple of days he is a chance of playing,'' he said.
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has delivered the news every Sharks fan has been desperate to hear all off-season - star playmaker Todd Carney will be ready to go for the NRL season-opener.
Carney on Monday joined his teammates in running with the full Sharks squad for the first time since tearing his Achilles tendon in last year's finals series; Flanagan revealing the NSW Origin pivot was ahead of schedule.
Off-contract at the end of the season, Carney was thought to be in danger of missing the early rounds of the competition, but Flanagan fully expects to have him available to face Gold Coast on March 10.
''He's been training on his own a fair bit but he hasn't been doing a lot of team stuff,'' Flanagan said.
''He's back in doing the team stuff now, the opposed work.
''That was exciting for us to have him back, and he slotted pretty much straight back in.
''Give him a couple of weeks doing a bit of the team sessions and some defensive work and I think he'll be ready to go.''
Flanagan said it had always been the plan to have Carney back on deck for round one.
Carney battled the injury through the back half of last season before it finally gave way during the Sharks' qualifying final loss to Canberra, when he crumpled to the Canberra Stadium turf as he attempted to step off his right foot.
''Our medical staff have always said the plan was to have him ready for round one and he's in front of that schedule - I have no reason to believe that he won't be ready,'' Flanagan said.
''He's got three weeks of real solid team stuff now and, if he gets through that, I can't see why not.''
Flanagan said the squad was doing its best to put behind it the drama surrounding the Australian Sport Anti-Doping Authority's investigation into the club, preferring to keep the focus on preparing for Saturday night's final trial against Newcastle in Tamworth.