Cornwall RLFC sign up former professional rugby league forward

Cornwall RLFC have signed Irish forward Paul Bolger for the 2022 Betfred League One season.

The imposing prop moves to the Duchy after taking part in a recent open player trial which the club held earlier this month.

Bolger has represented Ireland at age-grade level and played for the Dublin City Exiles before moving across the Irish Sea to England to study at the University of Gloucestershire (UOG).

The 26-year-old rose to prominence in rugby league circles after he captained the UOG to a famous win over Loughborough in 2021. And last year, Bolger had his first taste of the professional game when he made a handful of appearances for Cornwall’s League 1 rivals West Wales Raiders.

With fellow Irish prop Anthony Mullally also joining Cornwall in December, Bolger admits that the former Super League Grand Final winner is the perfect mentor for his own career.

“As soon as I heard about the trial, I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Bolger revealed. “It is no secret that Anthony Mullally is a bit of a hero of mine and what a guy to learn off and be around.

“I have some mutual friends that have played with him in the past and I have heard nothing but good things and the same goes for Neil Kelly.”

Bolger also gave Cornish rugby league fans an insight as to what they might expect in a black and yellow shirt when the competitive season begins.

“I’m 100 per cent a team player and you learn that pretty early on when you are playing in the middle that it’s not just about you, it’s 1-13,” he added. “I know my team mates will go to work for me and I will do the exact same for them. I won’t be the one who lets the team down.

“I am a bit of a joker too so I will always be playing with a smile on my face and I’ll guarantee you will hear me if you are in the crowd. I will put my body on the line and I hope I gain the fans’ respect.”

After Bolger encountered a testing time at West Wales as they finished the 2021 season with the League One wooden spoon, the Irishman feels he learnt a lot from that experience and is keen to make an impression with Cornwall.

“My first ever experience of League One was a learning curve,” he remarked. “I just tried to make myself a sponge because there were some players in that team who have gone on to play at a higher level.

“I didn’t get a massive amount of game time, but that is something I am really going to work hard on and get in the position to be one of the first names on the Cornwall team sheet by showing what I can do. Hopefully I can do Cornwall proud, the jersey proud and everyone back home justice and show that I have earned the right to be here.”

Meanwhile, Cornwall RLFC head coach Neil Kelly is hoping the club’s latest recruit can push his career on at the Memorial Ground.

“He has played the game before and we see Paul as a player with a lot of potential,” Kelly said.

“Like Joe Purcell, we felt that Paul gave an excellent account of himself at the open player trial. We know that he’s keen to grasp this opportunity after playing football at a similar level for West Wales last year.

“We are confident that if Paul works hard at his game, then he can have a brilliant future in the game of rugby league.”

Kelly’s enthusiasm after Bolger inked terms with Cornwall were echoed by the club’s general manager Gareth Reid, who added:

“We are very pleased to have signed Paul for the upcoming season. He’ll be a welcome physical presence on the field and his time spent in League 1 adds good experience to the squad as well. I look forward to seeing him work with the coaching staff to take his game to the next level.”

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