Neil Kelly: Cornwall RLFC appoint ex-Widnes coach for inaugural season

Neil Kelly as head coach of the Widnes Vikings
As head coach of the Widnes Vikings, Kelly got team promoted to the Super League in 2002

Neil Kelly has been appointed head coach at Cornwall RLFC for the club’s debut in League One in 2022.

Kelly, 56, has previously worked at Dewsbury and was assistant coach at Wales during the 2000 World Cup when they reached the semi-finals.

He won promotion to Super League with Widnes and has worked in the US with rugby union side Houston Sabercats.

The club has also announced its first player – former Leeds Rhinos and Ireland prop Anthony Mullally.

“I’m pinching myself and I see it as a real honour to be the coach of Cornwall RLFC for our inaugural season going into rugby league,” Kelly said after taking over the county’s first professional rugby league team.

“I have great experience and I am a guy that has a good name within the game. I see Cornwall RLFC as the perfect challenge for myself.

“I will try and build a team that is a perfect rugby league team – very tough and forthright in the way they play.”

The Cornwall venture has been set up by Eric Perez, founder of the Ottawa Acres operation, with the team being based at Penryn’s Memorial Ground.

The have joined the League One division alongside teams from Wales, London and the Midlands as well as the traditional north heartland of the sport.

During his playing career in the 1980s, Kelly played for Dewsbury, Wakefield, Featherstone Rovers and Hunslet as a hooker or loose forward.

“We are thrilled to have secured the signing of Neil as Cornwall’s first head coach,” said Gareth Reid, Cornwall RLFC’s general manager.

“Neil comes with a lifetime of experience in the sport at the highest levels and this combined with his in-depth knowledge of the game will be invaluable as we begin our journey as a club.”

‘I love surfing’ – why Mullally moved to Cornwall

Anthony Mullally
Mullally has also spent time at Widnes, Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity

Mullally, 30, played for Toronto Wolfpack before the Covid-19 pandemic and has also spent time with French side Carcassonne.

He was part of the Leeds side that won the 2017 Super League Grand Final and played for Ireland at the last two World Cups.

He says his move to Cornwall comes following an unusual decision he made after leaving Toronto.

“Lads decided to go on loan to other teams and I decided to buy a van and come down to Cornwall because I love surfing,” he said.

“Instead of going back up north I went to France to play for a season because I wanted something different again. After that season, I came back to Cornwall to live in my van, but I then got an apartment.

“I am working on different things away from the field and I work on outdoor retreats for men. I have a lot in the pipeline for next year, but I have a lot of free time so the Cornwall RLFC opportunity just fits perfectly, and I can invest in both things.”

New Cornwall boss Kelly says Mullally is a player capable of playing in leagues well above where Cornwall will start.

“If Anthony Mullally walked out onto a Super League training field, he would gain instant success and respect.

“It is great to have him on board and it will be invaluable from my point of view to have an ambassador on the field and he knows the game inside out.”


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