Scott Donald is hoping to end his career on a high note by helping the Leeds Rhinos to Grand Final success next month. The Australian will soon be swapping his gum shield for a helmet and his shoulder pads for a truncheon when he quits the sport to join the police force.
But before he hangs up his rugby boots in favour of the long arm of the law, the winger hopes to go out on top at Old Trafford in Manchester on October 2. Donald would love to bow out with a fourth successive Grand Final appearance, but first the Rhinos must get past the Wigan Warriors in Saturday's semi-final at Headingley. If selected, that would be the 30-year-old Donald's farewell home appearance after deciding to cut short his stay in Super League in order to pursue his long-held ambition.
"When I was back at high school in Australia, I got the opportunity to do some work experience in the police force and it was probably at that point that I decided it was what I really wanted to do," he said. Donald, who will return with his wife and two children to Townsville to take up a job with Queensland police, has been released from the final year of his contract with the champions and insists there are no regrets.
The speedy Donald set a new Leeds record of 92 consecutive appearances last year and his try in the play-off win at Wigan earlier this month was his 92nd in 144 starts for the club he joined in 2006. "A lot of people say I'm retiring a bit early, but I feel it's the right time to return home," he said. "If you're not going to give it 100 per cent for whatever reason, if your mind is going to be elsewhere, it's just not going to work and I didn't feel I could give it the 100 per cent that is needed."
Despite his prolific try-scoring record, Donald is not guaranteed his place in Saturday's line-up, especially after being left out of the team for the Challenge Cup final by Brian McClennan, the Leeds coach. * Press Association