Neil Kelly taking the long view at Cornwall RLFC

Neil Kelly says that Cornwall RLFC have “realistic ambitions” for their first season in League 1 and he is more focused on building the foundations of the fledgling club for the long-term.

Former Widnes and Dewsbury coach Kelly was last week appointed as the first head coach of the new club, who have also made former Leeds Rhinos prop Anthony Mullally their first player signing.

“My going to Cornwall is as much about creating a club, with structures and pathways for players and coaches, as the coaching,” Kelly told League Express.

“Obviously I’m doing the coaching and that’s going to be a big part of it. But it’s about setting the club up, setting the ethos of the club. It’s not about the one-season wonder, it’s about building it.

“I know the plans for this year onwards are very ambitious but realistic. It’s looking to make the club stronger in 2023 than it is in 2022 and so on and so forth.

“It was music to my ears when I heard that because I didn’t want to be a one-season wonder, having loads of success and then the club folds in on itself. We want a club with long-term structure and foundations.

“Needless to say, the plans that we have for 2022 are realistic; it’s more about establishing the club than gaining promotion. I don’t think we’re anywhere near having promotion mentioned in a conversation.

“It’s just about establishing the club and establishing a playing squad that could potentially be at Cornwall for the next two or three years.”

Cornwall intend to run a part-time squad with a mix of Cornish talent – the club has guaranteed at least ten contracts will be offered to players based locally – and established Rugby League players.

Kelly says that the club has already had “lots of expressions of interest” from the latter group.

“Now it’s me getting on the phone with them, talking to them about what they’re looking for, talking to the respective agents,” he said.

“If anybody is interested, I would certainly recommend flagging up that interest with us.”

It would be a major commitment for part-time players to make the move all the way down to Cornwall. Kelly says the club hopes to help find them jobs to enable them to do so.

“To attract the players from the Rugby League heartlands, the money we can afford to offer wouldn’t compensate them for relocating,” he said.

“We’d want them ideally to relocate, so we’d need to be able to find them work, not just seasonal work, but genuine jobs in the south-west area. We’re pretty confident we can do that with some of the sponsors we’re looking to get on board.”

As for finding talent from Cornwall itself, Kelly says that trials have been put back to January but he is confident it is the right approach to take.

“It’s going to be looking at who is showing the wherewithal, the basic skills and the raw talent that I and others can smooth off and turn into Rugby League players,” he said.

“I think the promise to recruit at least ten players from the Cornish area was a great dedication to Cornwall and to Rugby League in that they want to truly develop a Rugby League club in Cornwall.”

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