By STEVE SPINKS
BALLINA'S Ian Donnelly left a Storm in Melbourne for a brand new start on the Gold Coast.
And now he'll miss playing in the National Rugby League semi-finals.
Donnelly, a prop, was released from his contract with minor premiers the Melbourne Storm mid-way through the season so he could sign with new entity the Gold Coast Titans.
After excelling during the last two months of the home-and-away season, Donnelly was signed up until the end of the 2009 season by the Titans.
However, Gold Coast narrowly missed the finals and now Donnelly goes from participant to spectator for the last month of the competition while his former Melbourne team-mates focus on a semi-finals campaign.
"I'm feeling all right about missing the finals," Donnelly told The Northern Star yesterday.
"I'm still good mates with a lot of the boys down there.
"We only played them last weekend and they're all pretty focused.
"I missed out on playing the grand final with them last year so I now know how it feels to miss out.
"I just want them to go one better.'
In fact, one of Donnelly's closest mates is Storm centre Matt King.
"I've known him since our school days," he said. "He's pretty focused on leaving Melbourne on a good note before he heads to England (to join the Super League). He loves the Storm so he's primed for a big month."
While Donnelly has been unlucky to switch clubs mid-season, former Newcastle second-rower Clint Newton is a complete contrast.
Newton left the Knights, who finished second last, and is in Melbourne's starting side to play the Brisbane Broncos on Sunday.
"I think everyone knows he wasn't too happy at Newcastle and now he's down with the Storm and has a chance of playing in a grand final," Donnelly said. "He'd have to be happy, wouldn't he."
Donnelly finishes his 2007 playing duties with the Titans today and will then be on eight weeks holiday before the gruelling pre-season begins in November.