Brian Kelly finished 2020 as the Titans Paul Broughton Medallist and had established himself as one of the form centres in the NRL.
The Ballina junior was a standout for the Gold Coast side but says himself that this season could have gone in another direction.
Speaking to the Gold Coast Bulletin, Kelly says he first had to overcome a slow start to the year and navigate his way through the COVID break.
“I had a little hiccup at the start of the year,” Kelly revealed.
“Obviously the COVID break mucked up the pre-season with two rounds then eight weeks of nothing.
“I was being a bit slack with Zoom meetings and I missed some of those and the coach wasn’t too happy.
“It was a bit of professionalism stuff on the sidelines, which was a bit of a hiccup.
“Justin helped me get on the right track, just let me play footy and do what I do.
“I’m grateful for what happened because you learn from your mistakes and move on.”
The 24-year-old exploded over the back half of the season in his second year back on the Gold Coast after a stint at Manly.
Finishing with six tries from 16 games, Kelly also had 48 tackle breaks and seven line breaks as he proved a constant threat with ball in hand.
“Overall I think this year is my best year I’ve ever had,” Kelly said.
“The whole pre-season I came back a lot fitter than I have usually been and the coaching staff have really worked with me on my defence which I wanted to pick up this year.
“This is just the platform that I’ll build on and I’ve just got to keep on improving.”
With another strong pre-season to come, Kelly has his sights set on a representative jersey in years to come.
“Every kid dreams to play with the Blues for State of Origin,” he told the Bulletin.
“I’ve been wanting it for so long and I’d love to play but I haven’t heard too much (from the Blues camp).
“I’m not the selector, I just have to do what I do and put my best foot forward.
“I’ll just keep playing my best footy and work on the little things in my game and hopefully I’ll get picked by the selectors.”