Anthony Mullally brings size, experience and a discerning palate to the Toronto Wolfpack.
The recently acquired Irish international becomes the latest restaurateur to join the transatlantic rugby league team. Known as the Vegan Warrior, the 27-year-old from Widnes, England, co-owns a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Leeds called Vital Cafe. A second restaurant is in the works.
It's a passion for the six-foot-five 252-pounder who rid his menu of red meat first and then went from vegetarian to vegan after doing more research on the subject.
"Most definitely I'm as strong and fit as I've ever been ... It's just about making sure you get getting the right calories in to sustain the performance," he said.
So is he good in the kitchen?
"I'd say I'm efficient. I get what I need. I'm not too great," he said with a chuckle.
Fellow Wolfpack forward Jon Wilkin, a former England and Great Britain international, has two coffee/brunch spots in central Manchester named Pot Kettle Black, with two more slated to open in the future.
The two foodies and the Wolfpack, who lead the second-tier Betfred Championship at 4-0-0, visit the ninth-place Dewsbury Rams (1-1-1) on Sunday.
Mullally began his career with Widnes in 2009 and spent the spent the 2011 season in Australia with Brisbane Broncos under-20s team. He moved to Huddersfield Giants in 2013, going out on loan with several teams. He found a home with Leeds Rhinos in 2016, winning the Grand Final in 2017.
Mullally scored 10 tries in 70 appearances for Leeds, with 60 of those coming off the bench.
Half-Irish, he represented Ireland at both the 2013 and 2017 Rugby League World Cups.
"He's another big unit," said Brian Noble, the Wolfpack's director of rugby.
The move to Toronto reunites Mullally with former Leeds coach Brian McDermott. Mullally debuted for the Wolfpack in last Sunday's 14-8 win over Leigh Centurions.
"It's gone great," he said. "It's the move that I needed to reignite my love for the game."
Concussions frustrated Mullally at Leeds and he felt he needed a change. Toronto was an attractive option because he believes McDermott gets the best out of him as a player. Plus he enjoys travel, so he liked the idea of spending time in Canada.
"It kind of fits perfectly," said McDermott, who has a nine-year-old son in Widnes.
He's never been to Canada but says he can't wait to get here.
"I've heard great things about Toronto. Everybody seems to love the place," he said.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press