USA International Connor Donehue is an American born Rugby League player who got his start in the development system at the Melbourne Storm where he gained plenty of experience training with the first team.
“Coming through the Storm system we would always train with first grade. There was a group of us called the rookies. It was basically a couple guys from the 20’s that would train with first grade full time and then travel to play in the 20’s or Q-cup,” Donehue told Everything Rugby League.
“Players that were really helpful going through for me were Dale Finucane and Cameron Smith. Smithy obviously speaks for himself and I was playing hooker so learning a lot of little tips here and there was super helpful taking it into the games on the weekend.
“Dale was just a hard trainer and showed me mental toughness to another level he would always turn up just ready to go no matter what time it was or the weather conditions or what we were doing he would never complain and just get on with it so he was a good mentor in terms of being mentally tough in games and situations.”
In 2018 Donehue became a USA International when he represented the nation in a Rugby League World Cup qualifying match against Jamaica.
He enjoyed the experience immensely and hopes to represent the red, white and blue for years to come.
“Making my USA Hawks debut was unreal. To be able to represent that side of the family and playing Jamaica was awesome, I loved it.
“From just heading into camp to meeting all the guys and creating that tight bond from the start it just worked. Felt a bit surreal pulling on the jersey as it was my first international game.
“I’m definitely excited to keep playing more for the Hawks in the future and establishing a position in that team for a while.”
Not only did playing for the USA make Donehue an International Rugby League player, but it lead to him joining his current club, the Brooklyn Kings.
“The move to Brooklyn actually came about from the USA camp. Our assistant coach was the head coach in Brooklyn.
“At the time I wasn’t looking to sign with another club and I thought with the use of my passport and getting the chance to live in one of the greatest cities in the world whilst playing footy it wasn’t an opportunity I was willing to pass up.
“We spoke after and got the logistics done and I headed over which ended up being one of the best footy experiences I’ve ever had.”
The Kings went through the 2019 USARL season undefeated but were handed a huge challenge in the Grand Final a where they met defending premiers the Jacksonville Axeman, who had not lost a game since 2017.
The Kings would prevail tho and go on to win 12-6 in a tight match.
“Winning the grand final was a great feeling. From getting to know all the boys and creating that bond with them all it felt that much better.
“Plus Brooklyn had never won a championship since the league started so to do that and go undefeated for the season was pretty special.”
The 24-year-old then returned to Australia and played for the USA at the World 9’s tournament, however would love to get back over to the United States if the New York City Rugby League club are granted entry into the English League One competition, something he is keen to be apart of.
“In terms of what the future holds, I would be keen to go back and play over in the states and try and develop and build the league over there as I do think there is a lot of scope for it. Getting involved with that would be great.
“I hope the New York team eventually goes through because I would love to do it in that more of a professional environment.
“Obviously with Covid-19 happening there will be no footy this year so I’m training for a marathon at the moment and just keeping fit in general so that way when things do hopefully go back to normal I’ll be ready to go.
“Opportunities in Australia are mainly in QLD and NSW for me being in Victoria I would need to get in contact with clubs and see where the opportunity would be, but for the mean time just training on my own and with mates here and there.”