Cornwall RLFC


Abbott Reflects on Opposed Training Session

January 23, 2024

Head coach Mike Abbott – Cornwall Sports Media

Cornwall RLFC head coach Mike Abbott says the endeavours of his side in an opposed training session against a mixed Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Beckett University side, ‘will bode us well’ for the 2024 campaign. 

The game took place last weekend at Station Road, home of National League rugby union side Clifton, who, ironically, were in the Duchy locking horns with Redruth at the same time Cornwall took to the field.

Against a youthful but hungary combined Leeds outfit, Abbott handed debuts to a number of hsi new faces that have arrived in the Duchy over the close season. This included Australian talent Darcy Simpson (pictured below) and former Coventry rugby union player Christian Bannister.

A first run for Darcy Simpson in Cornwall colours – Cornwall RLFC

Both second-rows caught Abbott’s eye along with a number of Cornwall’s ex-London Skolars contingent and Maltese international Kaine Dimech. 

“I thought it was a competitive game and as a club, we thank Leeds for travelling the best part of four-and-a-half hours to Bristol for the game, Abbott told

“The mixed Leeds side gave us a good test and they had a good dig for the full 80 minutes but I thought we stuck to our guns really well. We made changes throughout the game and we travelled with 23 players, with only a few players from our squad missing.

“When we did make the changes in the game, it didn’t really alter much from our point of view which is really pleasing.

“I thought Darcy Simpson did well for his first game in England and he carried excellently. We spelled him with Christian Bannister and considering it was his first game of rugby league, although he has played union at Championship standard, Chris carried well too.

Maltese international Kaine Dimech – Malta RL

“Kaine Dimech (pictured above) stood out and looks like a different player which shows our hard work in pre-season training, doing the non-negotiables of fitness work, is paying off. Aaron Small played big minutes and scored a good try too. 

“Matt Ross and Liam O’Callagham gave us real impact coming off the bench and that was something we didn’t have at times last year.”

Abbott added: “We kept things basic which was absolutely our game plan and going into an opposed training session, with that mindset, will bode us well for the upcoming season. 

“Clifton were excellent hosts and they couldn’t have been more accommodating if they tried. We thank Clifton for hosting the game and it would be great to make this event with Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Rhinos an annual thing.”

The club would like to extend their thanks to everyone at Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Rhinos for making this very worthwhile exercise for all parties come to fruition. 

And to One and All at Clifton Rugby Union Club for hosting the game and their wonderful hospitality.