Cornwall RLFC


Neil Kelly Pre-West Wales Raiders

June 24, 2022

Cornwall RLFC head coach Neil Kelly – Patrick Tod

Head coach Neil Kelly is urging his Cornwall side to ‘find a different motivation’ for today’s Betfred League 1 clash against West Wales Raiders.

Prior to the Choughs’ trip across the Severn, Kelly’s side took on table topping Keighley Cougars and despite finishing the game with 12 players, they performed admirably to go down 56-12 at the Mem.

Kelly, 60, felt that his side’s encouraging performance against the big-spending title elect could have been fuelled by fear.

With that in mind, the former Super League Coach of the Year called on his charges to improve on aspects of their game such as completion rates. When West Wales travelled to the Mem last month, Cornwall completed at just over 50 per cent as the Raiders triumphed 20-0 in atrocious conditions. 

“There were some massive positives to take from the Keighley game,” Kelly told “If you look at the score it was a significant defeat, but playing with 13 men against Keighley would always be very, very difficult, Playing with 12 for three-quarters of the game is impossible and difficult to keep them under a cricket score.

“But for long periods the team acquitted themselves well and maybe if the motivation for playing well against Keighley was fear, we have to find a different motivation to play well against West Wales.

“I certainly don’t fear West Wales even if we have lost to them earlier this season. There needs to be a motivation within the team to do all the things that add up to a win. We had a 50 per cent success rate with the ball in the previous game against West Wales and that is never enough to win a schoolboy game, let alone a professional rugby league match.

“That is one area we need to find the extra motivation to do well in because if we come up with the same rate this time against West Wales, there will be a similar outcome.”

Kelly has endured mixed news on squad availability for the Stebonheath Park clash. New signings Tom Ashton and Charley Bodman have both been named in Kelly’s matchday squad.

However the inclusion of two new recruits was tempered with the news that hooker Luke Collins (two games) and prop Anthony Mullally (one game) will miss out through suspension.

Although Kelly admitted that he had no issues with the punishments handed out to Collins and Mullally, he admitted still feeling a degree of disappointment and concern at Liam Whitton’s red card against Keighley last time out.

With the former Leeds academy star battling to get to his feet, touch judge Peter Wroe ran onto the field of play and alerted referee John McMullen of alleged foul play. Whitton was then sent off for an alleged punch which, after compelling video evidence, demonstrated that Whitton had not thrown a punch.

The incident was viewed by the Rugby Football League’s Match Review Panel and in light of the replay showing no foul play, Whitton received no further action.

“Before I get onto taking about Charlie and Tom,” Kelly said. “I want to say that I have no qualms about Luke’s suspension. There is a bit of naivety on Luke’s part which highlights his competitive nature.

“Anthony’s is more a technical thing in terms of how we get hold of a tackled player. But what I would like to say is that I’m disappointed an official determined that Liam had punched a Keighley player when he couldn’t see it.

“The match official had the best view and he decided not to overturn his touch judge’s decision. I am a little bit concerned because we are a new side and at the wrong end of the table. I feel that it is too easy to come on waving your flag. I have video evidence that Aaron Jones-Bishop scored a try against Keighley but it is easy to disallow that try when you are at the bottom of the table. 

“I am concerned about how we are being officiated and don’t think I am asking for any favours. I want my players to be protected and to be officiated fairly alongside our opposition.

“Like I said, I have no qualms about Luke’s suspension or Anthony’s but when you see players being sent off in the first half of a game in which bottom is playing top, when the touch-judge can’t see the incident, that does concern me.

“I am waiting for someone from the Rugby Football League to say sorry that Liam was sent off. I know he has received no further action, but I would like someone to explain to me why he got sent off in the first place.”

On Bodman and Ashton, Kelly added: “Charley is bubbling under the surface in the professional ranks. He has had a couple of years in the professional game at West Wales and then Hunslet. He is a big physical specimen but I’m not too sure about his haircut or the moustache although each to their own.

“Seriously, though, we are looking forward to him putting down roots in the professional game in Cornwall.

“Tom is a player of note in this division and amongst the top two or three centres in the competition. If there is someone better than Tom, I can’t think of them currently.

“I don’t want to give him too big a wrap at the moment or too many things to live up to because everyone will be able to see what he brings to the party.

“He is a solid lad that has brilliant running lines and he’s got great experience. To have him for the next 18 months bodes well for the club and it is part and parcel of the direction the club wants to move in. 

“Along with the other players we are wanting to secure for 2023 within our current squad over the next couple of weeks, the team is getting stronger and stronger.”