Brian Kelly is beginning to understand the importance of off-field professionalism as the Gold Coast’s club champion enhances his reputation as a strike centre.
Kelly has been one of the Gold Coast’s unsung heroes this year. While names like David Fifita, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and AJ Brimson have created the headlines, the 25-year-old centre has quietly forged his own strong start to 2021.
Kelly’s 209 running metres and two try assists in the 30-20 win over Canterbury on Saturday took him to six try assists for the season – equal most at the Titans with halfback Jamal Fogarty and Brimson.
Considering Kelly missed three games earlier this year with a broken hand, the proud Indigenous man is emerging as a real attacking threat in union with David Fifita, Tanah Boyd and Phil Sami on the left edge.
"Having Davey there, Tanah the little pocket-rocket, and Phil is always yapping his mouth away so it’s an edge just full of energy," Kelly said.
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"I’m loving it and loving my footy. I’ve just got to keep building on it.
"We’ve got strike kind of all over the park. Left or right wherever we go we’re looking pretty dangerous it just comes back to our defence, we’re a bit soft in a few areas.
"That is the good thing about rugby league you have next week to fix it. We were much better this week and connected and we will just need to keep working on that area."
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Kelly’s right hand still carries the scar from the five screws inserted earlier this year and while it took him a while to regain confidence to use it to fend away defenders, he is now back to his best.
"It’s still a bit stiff and I’m getting needles in my thumb … but it’s been going well the past couple of weeks and I’ve just got to keep it going and not get injured," Kelly said.
"Yeah, I like to use my fend now and then. The first week I was a bit argy-bargy with it but it’s all good now."
Kelly puts his form down to little changes he’s made away from football. Diet, recovery and punctuality three of the big changes he’s made this season to ensure he is ready for game day each and every week.
"It’s just about consistency and I guess for me attention to the little details off the field," he said.
"The footy out there is the easy part. Preparing each week and doing the little things right, looking after my body and eating the right foods and being punctual, I guess.
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"I was late a few times last year and I just need to be a bit professional.
"I’m a pretty cruisy dude but I’ve got to work on those things and just my defence and our combinations in defence. If we keep working on those then the attack will come."
The win over the Bulldogs gives the club some confidence as they prepare to face Cronulla in Coffs Harbour on Sunday as part of the NRL’s Indigenous Round with Fifita set to return from suspension.
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It’s a week that means a lot to the strong Indigenous contingent at the Titans, with Kelly, Fogarty and Fifita all playing for the Indigenous All Stars earlier this year.
Having grown up in northern NSW, Kelly has already been hit with ticket requests for the game and is expecting more from his mob as they come to see their young gun in action.
"I’ve already got eight to 10 ticket requests. It should be good, Mum and Dad will drive down and a few family and our mob are down that way. I love getting down that way to those coastal towns," he said.
"There’s a few Indigenous boys here, even the juniors coming through so I think we’ve got at least 10 of us here [at the Titans] so it’s a good little culture we’ve got here."