Kelly takes charge of Red Devils
THE Byron Bay Red Devils are hoping history can be quick to repeat itself with the appointment of hard-running prop Simon Kelly as coach for the 2010 Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League season.
Kelly takes over from Nathan Cross, whose business commitments on the Gold Coast have forced the switch.
However, the appointment comes with a built-in ‘support role’ promise from Cross to help Kelly if needed.
It is the first step in a major rebuilding player program for the Red Devils, although it comes in the same week as news of the departure of key backs Brad Lees and Jared de Thierry to the Queensland Cup in Brisbane.
Versatile fullback Lees and classy halfback de Thierry have signed contracts with the Norths Devils, an NRL feeder club to the Brisbane Broncos.
Negotiations with the pair through the Ballina-based Select Athletes sports agency have been continuing for two months and they are due to start training with their new Queensland Cup club on Monday.
“It’s a bit of an early setback, but not one we can’t get over,” Red Devils president John Fysh said yesterday.
“Players of their ability will certainly be missed, but we wish them every success in their deserving chase for NRL recognition.
“We have lost plenty of good players in the past and managed to see it through.
“We’re determined to head in a new direction in what is going to be a very positive year, and already Simon’s appointment is paying big dividends.
“He’s a respected and popular player and is already drawing interest from players outside the Red Devils ranks.
“We’re in negotiations with a number of those players now, and those announcements are pending in the next couple of weeks.”
Fysh said the club was not concerned by Kelly’s debut year as coach.
“He leads from the front and has the support of every player,” he said.
“We were in the same position two years ago when Nathan (Cross) took the reins, and he went on to win the premiership.”