Craig Bellamy ‘in awe’ of rugby league players

Drew Darbyshire

Former Premier League footballer Craig Bellamy says he has great admiration for rugby league players and the sport itself.

Bellamy, who earned 78 caps for Wales during his playing career, is a big fan of rugby league and admitted that he is in awe of rugby league players for what they put themselves through.

In light of ex-England and Arsenal captain Tony Adams becoming the new president of the Rugby Football League in 2019, Bellamy spoke highly of the sport and thinks Adams can benefit rugby league.

On Sky Sports’ The Debate, Bellamy said: “I grew up with my closest friend playing rugby league, so I grew up with a love for rugby league off the back of that with Hull KR – he was at St Helens first and then Hull KR.

“And growing up in my era with Wigan, these are some of the best sportsmen, some of the best athletes you will see. Incredible athletes, and talented as well.

“They’re incredibly brave athletes. Every time I see a rugby league player go into rugby union, I want him to be a success. Like, Sam Burgess is incredible and rugby union didn’t quite take him – Burgess is one of the most immense athletes I’ve ever come across. I watched a player in the first minute fracture his cheekbone and his eye socket and go on and be man of the match. Then he didn’t play for another six months.

“I’m in awe of them, hugely. This is a remarkable sport and I can’t see why he [Adams] can’t help it become more of a success.”

Bellamy holds Adams in high regard and believes he can make a difference to rugby league.

Bellamy added: “Tony Adams was the best defender I ever came across.

“[It was] due to his own problems, but what he created with Sporting Chance was incredible. It’s been brilliant for all sports.It’s given him that experience of dealing with different sports people, and a lot of people have gone into the Sporting Chance Clinic from rugby league.

“I know he’s [Adams] been busy actually doing a lot of talks in rugby league too – I think he was up there last week as well.

“And I’m sure he [Adams] must have an insight into that because this is a game which, again, doesn’t get near the publicity these athletes deserve.”