BACKPACKING around random areas of Peru and Colombia as well as brushing up for a photography class may not seem regular off-season activities for Super League players but they are just the norm’ for Leeds Rhinos’ Anthony Mullally.
The prop is currently in the thick of pre-season training in readiness for his second campaign with the club following his switch from Huddersfield Giants.
However, Rhinos’ Kirkstall HQ on the edge of Leeds city centre, with its relentless practice and conditioning, is as far removed as you can imagine from where the 25 year-old spent a large chunk of his recent break.
Mullally told the YEP: “I backpacked around South America for just under three weeks.
“I climbed Machu Picchu in Peru, travelled to Medellin in Colombia, went north from there and into the national parks and then just tried seeing places other backpackers recommended.
“I moved to Australia when I was 18 and travelled along the coast over there to get my first taste of it all.
“I try to go to places that aren’t your standard backpacking holidays – you couldn’t really go to Colombia before on your own after what happened there in the ‘90s – and I like the freedom of it all, travelling, not knowing what you will be doing or where you will be from one day to the next.
“I don’t book hostels, just take advice from people I meet as I go along and meeting people from different backgrounds.”
Mullally has charted some of those experiences through his photography, too, something he is similarly keen to advance. The Ireland international has created a photographic blog of his travels on Instagram and added: “I’m hoping to start a course at Leeds College of Arts soon.
“I’ve mainly been taking landscape pictures but would love to start wildlife images later down the line.
“I do enjoy it all and it’s something that interests me.”
The ex-Widnes Vikings front-row’s first priority, of course, is Leeds and ensuring they do not suffer a repeat of last season’s annus horribilis when the defending champions were dragged into an unexpected relegation dogfight.
After that intrepid break, Mullally admitted: “It doesn’t take long to adjust getting back into it all.
“Everyone’s been going well in pre-season and seems to be enjoying it.
“We’re preparing well and, for me especially, it’s good as I didn’t get a pre-season last year given I broke my ankle playing against New Zealand last October.
“We’re addressing little areas on what went wrong last season and cracking on straight away, integrating skills with our conditioning.”
Mullally also hopes to establish himself as a regular in Brian McDermott’s side in 2017.
He certainly had big boots to fill last season given the dual retirement of legendary ex-England captain Jamie Peacock and fellow veteran prop Kylie Leuluai.
The towering forward, who made three appearances on dual-registration at Featherstone Rovers in July, said: “I came in and played about 17 games straight, I think.
“But then dropped off after a few injuries.
“I’m looking to be a more consistent influence for the team next season.
“I need to get in that 17 first and then look to compete as well as I can especially as there’s a World Cup at the end of next year, too.
“I want to be in that Ireland side again but to do that I must play well for Leeds consistently.”