Rugby Union: Kelly comes at coaching from a fresh angle

Neil Kelly
Neil Kelly

Minnows Romania have been looking at the way Leeds Rhinos do things ahead of their Rugby World Cup campaign.

Romania face Yorkshire Carnegie at Headingley today (5.30pm) in a warm-up game being played as a curtain raiser to the rugby league side’s top-of-the-table visit of Wigan Warriors.

The Oaks’ assistant-coach is Wakefield-born Neil Kelly, who coached Dewsbury, Widnes and Wales in rugby league before switching codes and he has been using clips of Leeds in action to highlight the sort of standards the Romanians need to aspire to.

The central European nation kick-off their World Cup campaign against France at London’s Olympic Stadium on September 23 and also face Ireland at Wembley, Canada in Leicester and Italy at Exeter.

It is a daunting fixture list for a team of players who are World Cup ever-presents, but have never progressed beyond the group phase.

“We’ve looked at one or two clips of the Rhinos,” said Kelly.

“The players don’t know very much about rugby league in general, not just Leeds Rhinos, but one thing we have been working on is the angles of running and timing and different depths of runs.

“Friday night is going to give us a great chance to see all the things we’ve been talking about in training in action.

“Some of the Romanian players are quite keen to watch the game after ours just to benchmark themselves against some of the best players in the world.”

Yorkshire Carnegie coach Brian Redpath has named all eight of his closed-season recruits in his squad, with winger Seb Stegmann, centre Tom Casson, prop Rob O’Donnell and second-row Dean Schofield all due to start and Tom Ryder, Andy Saull, Joel Hodgson and Andy Forsyth among the replacements.

Carnegie are preparing for the new Championship season and Kelly feels tonight’s match will be good for both sides.

“I can guarantee Carnegie we will give them a really good workout in the forwards,” Kelly said. “I think Brian Redpath will have an idea of how strong or weak his pack is after meeting ours and I think it will be a bit of a challenge in the backs.”

With a big crowd expected for the Super League game, which kicks-off at 8pm, Romania will also benefit from tasting the Headingley atmosphere, Kelly believes.

He added: “I think it will be a great experience for us and needed. We only play in front of 6-7,000 people and that is a factor we have been concerned about, the players freezing and not performing in front of a big crowd. It will be a good test.”