Manly rookie Kelly tipped for NRL spot
Sea Eagles recruit Brian Kelly has received the ultimate endorsement from Nines skipper Brenton Lawrence, with the prop forward backing him to play NRL in 2017.
Kelly joined the Sea Eagles after three seasons with the Gold Coast Titans in the NYC where he scored a club-record 35 tries from 54 matches.
He also scored four tries for the Junior Blues in the 2015 State of Origin clash but it's not just his attacking ability that has caught the eye of his teammates.
With the future of club legends Brett Stewart and Steve Matai in doubt, Lawrence said the 20-year-old had the temperament to work his way into the first grade squad if his pre-season form was anything to go by.
"I'm not the coach, but I'd put him in the side," Lawrence told NRL.com at the Auckland Nines Captains Call.
"He's shown experience beyond his game-time and that shows me that with a bit more time on the field, he could do some great things. You don't want to rush it, but at the same time you want to give him a go and see what happens."
Lawrence has tipped his younger teammate to be one of the stars of the Nines, warning opposition defences to beware of Kelly's footwork.
"We've all been training against each other since October and now it's an opportunity for us to get out there and show it against the real opposition. Young blokes like Brian can really make a name for themselves if they have a good tournament," he said.
"You wouldn't want to be standing still because he'll dance right around you with those feet of his. He's also got a really good head on his shoulders. He's really settled in here and he's really comfortable in his new surroundings."
This will be Kelly's second trip to the Nines after playing one game for the Titans in last year's tournament where he gained valuable experience and learnt a lot about what was needed to make it in the NRL.
Now he wants to show Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett that he has what it takes to cut it against the game's elite.
"This is probably the first real chance that the coaches get to see any kind of footy, so here and the trials are a great opportunity to show them and my teammates what I can do," Kelly told NRL.com.
"I've had a few chats with Trent and he's been upfront and honest about what he wants from me. He says I need to keep training hard and working hard, and if I do that then rewards may follow.
"I want to show them what I can do in defence, and I know the attack will come after that."
Hailing from Ballina on the NSW north coast, Kelly admitted to feeling homesick for the first few weeks down in Sydney.
But the support of his teammates, coupled with Manly's seemingly endless supply of beaches, made the transition a smooth one.
"I was a bit homesick at the start but it's all good now. The boys have been welcoming so it makes it heaps comfortable," he said.
"I'm a 100 per cent beach boy so I'm always heading down to the beach after training or when I have some spare time."