Thirty-two young players will get the chance of a lifetime in the first Indigenous Youth Tour to Europe. Credit: NRL.com Copyright: NRL.com
Keeden Kelly has received a few presents from cousin Greg Inglis over the years, but nothing comes close to a free trip to Euro Disney.
Kelly is one of 32 indigenous players who departed Sydney for Barcelona on Friday for rugby league's first ever Indigenous Youth Tour to Europe.
The team will play games against French under-17s and 18s side in France before facing a London Broncos academy team in England. The trip also includes a visit to an indigenous soldier's gravesite at the Somme.
And to top it off, Kangaroos star Greg Inglis is generously shouting the entire squad a trip to Euro Disney.
"Yeah, it's definitely the best thing he's ever gotten me," Kelly told NRL.com. "I've gotta make sure that I thank him when I see him. I don't think he knows that I'm going on tour so it'd be good to surprise him over there and see what his face looks like when he sees me."
Like Inglis, Kelly grew up in the northern NSW town of Kempsey, one of a handful of country towns represented in the touring party.
"It's a big opportunity because you're not sure when something like this is going to come up again," Kelly said. "Getting to go with cousins and good mates, guys I've played in a few indigenous games with, and mates from back home, it's once in a lifetime."
The team's trip coincides with the finals stage of the Rugby League World Cup, where they will enjoy an opposed session against Samoa and join the Kangaroos training at Wembley, before sitting in the stands for the semi-final double-header. Kelly said watching his cousin represent his country would be an inspiration to him.
"And not just for me, but a lot of the other boys," the South Sydney junior said. "Everyone looks up to him because he's been such a good role model for the indigenous boys.
"It's not just about him shouting us a trip to Disneyland."
NSW coach Laurie Daley, who didn't tour Europe until he was 21, handed the boys their jerseys and said it would be an experience the boys would never forget.
"It'll be massive. Some of these kids may never go overseas again, let alone go as a player. So for them to be a part of it is very special," he said.
"It'll be an eye-opener because they get to see the other side of the world. They get to go away with mates, enjoy themselves and play some footy. As a 16-year-old, you're living the dream."
For the record, Kelly said he'd definitely opt for a NSW jersey over Maroon if he ever earned State of Origin selection, unlike his older cousin.