Mike Grady and Mariano Martín have been appointed as the new men’s and women’s head coaches of the respective national teams by the Spanish Association of Rugby League (AERL). Both will also be responsible for developing the sport’s strategy in their areas, as the men prepare for the 2025 Rugby League World Cup qualifiers.
Grady has experience as head coach of Wales U18s and with North Wales Crusaders and as an assistant at Newcastle Thunder and Rochdale Hornets. He is currently working with John Kear at Widnes and will combine that with his new role for Spain.
“I’m really happy to be given the opportunity to coach the Spanish national side in the forthcoming European Championships,” he said. “I am looking forward to the challenge that the year ahead will bring and excited to be coming up against established nations France, Wales and Italy. I can’t wait to get going and start preparing for the tournament and the journey ahead.”
AERL is developing a full structure for women’s rugby league in Spain and Martín has been appointed women’s director as well as head coach for the national team. He is a current member of the Spanish men’s squad and a former full rugby union and 7’s Peruvian international.
He has played club rugby in Madrid, Castile and León, and coached in the universities and women’s national leagues, and is the head coach of Ammonites in Madrid. “It is a privilege to be part of the creation of the structure for women’s sport in Spain and the development of a women's national team,” he said. “It is a great challenge to promote its growth and lead it to compete internationally in the future. I am very grateful for the opportunity.”
AERL president, Tony Palacios, commented: “With this double appointment, we begin a new and very important stage for the AERL and our sport in Spain. Mike Grady is a coach who, despite his youth, has extensive experience with top-tier rugby league teams that is tremendously valuable in achieving our sporting goals.
“This is also reflected in the appointment of Mariano Martín to develop the women’s structure for the sport and the national team. With them and with the work of the rest of the volunteers that make up the AERL, I am sure that we can place Spanish rugby league where it deserves. The AERL also wishes to thank former head coach Fernando Vidal for his dedication to leading the men's team in recent years, in which his work has been fundamental in a very difficult period.”