DONCASTER Knights’ coach Neil Kelly is feeling on ‘top of the world’ as he helps put the Namibian rugby union squad through its paces in South Africa.
Kelly, who joined the Championship club’s coaching set-up last summer, is in Cape Town working with the Namibian players, in his role as the country’s defensive coach, ahead of the forthcoming World Cup in New Zealand.
Said Kelly this week: “ It all came about through a gentleman called Alan Solomon. During my time with Ulster I’d built up a friendship with Alan and at one stage I had been pencilled in to help Portugal with their World Cup preparations.
“But as Portugal failed to qualify that fell by the wayside but a phone call out of the blue from Alan put me in touch with the Namibian team.”
Kelly’s commitments with the Namibian team has meant that he is missing the opening weeks of pre-season training at Castle Park. “It hasn’t been ideal,” he admitted. “But having spoken to Brett Davey (director of rugby) about it in depth, he agreed it was an opportunity not to be missed, for the Knights as well as myself.
“I’ve now met with people such as the International Controller of international referees which is something I would never have had the chance to do. All of these things I’m learning can be brought back to Castle Park, and I am still influencing the squad though Brett and Glen Kenworthy.
After Cape Town Kelly will return to Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, with the squad and then on to New Zealand.
He will resume his coaching duties with Knights, who have their first pre-season game on Friday, August 5 against Hull RFC at Castle Park, following the end of Namibia’s involvement in the World Cup.
Billy Sharp’s standing among Doncaster Rovers’ fans is likely to have soared to new heights this week following his decision to reject a £3.25m move to Championship newcomers Southampton.
Rovers’ top scorer for the last two years, Sharp has a huge role to play in the club’s 2011-2012 Championship campaign and fans will naturally be delighted that it looks as though he will again be gracing the Keepmoat Stadium next season.
You always get the feeling that Rovers are in with a shout against any club in the division when they are on song and Sharp is firing on all cylinders - something that isn’t always the case when Sharp is absent.
Had the deal gone through it would have shattered Rovers’ club transfer record currently standing at around £1.7m paid out for Matt Mills by Reading. Talking of Rovers I have mixed feelings about their new home kit. I think the decision to revert to hoops on the back of the shirt, rather than leave a white square, works better for those fans who buy a replica shirt.
But it won’t be welcomed by the media who find the players’ numbers hard to pick out - especially in an evening match - when they are on the back of a hooped shirt.
It looks like I will be pestered again by journalists not as familiar with the players as I am (I’m the only journalist who covers the team home and away on a regular basis) to identify people during games.
Will the country’s long wait for the first Wimbledon men’s singles champion since Fred Perry in the 1930s finally come to an end this weekend?
Andy Murray, providing he can beat defending champion Rafa Nadal in today’s semi-final, which I feel he can, is playing well enough to win it.