Dewsbury Rams have appointed Neil Kelly as their new head coach and he will be in charge for tomorrow’s Kingstone Press Championship derby clash with Batley Bulldogs.
Kelly spent six years as coach at the Rams between 1995 to 2001 and supporters will remember fondly of the success he brought to Tetley’s Stadium, including the treble winning season of 2000.
He went on to coach at Widnes Vikings and spent time as head of rugby at Leigh before switching codes to rugby union.
Kelly spent six years with the Romanian national squad and was part of the coaching team that guided them to the 2015 Rugby World Club, while also helping them climb the world rankings to 16th place.
He has spent the last 12 months training to become a teacher, which meant coaching was placed on the back burner but he is now relishing the challenge that a return to Dewsbury offers.
Kelly met the Rams’ squad for the first time last night and plans to take advice from interim coaches Karl Pryce and Jonathan Schofield ahead of the Batley derby .
Kelly said: “I believe I’m the right man for the job both for now until the end of the season and in going forward.
“When I took over in 1995, the club had record debts and had just finished bottom of the table in the last winter season.
“With the help of local players, we managed to finish eighth out of 12 teams in the first summer season.
“This is a great club and a community but we need everybody pulling in the same direction, the players, coaches and supporters.
“I appreciate some fans will have their gripes but I would ask them to put those to one side and get behind the team.
“Our success in 2000 was a combined effort and if we are to get out of trouble, it won’t be because of Neil Kelly, it will because of everybody’s efforts.”
Kelly inherits a side low on confidence having lost their opening eight Championship games but he is confident they can turn things around.
Kelly added: “I have no pre-conceived ideas about the team and everyone will start with a clean slate.
“It will be tough on Friday and (Batley) is probably not the game I would have chosen but we need to turn the season around and things could look a whole lot different on Tuesday.”
The Batley derby kicks off at 1pm, while Dewsbury face Sheffield Eagles at Wakefield on Monday (7.30pm).