Sea Eagles show centres can still combine
It's one of the rarest plays in modern rugby league, but the Sea Eagles showed in their 18-12 win against the Roosters on Friday night that there is still a place in the game for centres to link up in attack.
The Melbourne Storm did it in Round 1 with Will Chambers drifting to the left edge to send centre partner Cheyse Blair over for a simple try, and while it was different in execution, the Sea Eagles showed that Melbourne aren't the only side thinking outside the square.
With scores level and the game destined for golden point, young gun Brian Kelly stepped up and delivered the most important pass of his career to send fellow centre Dylan Walker into a huge hole for the match-winning try.
All it took was a little left-foot swerve and a left-to-right pass – something you don't always see from a left centre – and Walker did the rest with his blinding speed helping him outrun Michael Gordon and Daniel Tupou to the try line.
Kelly said his biggest concern was ensuring the pass wasn't intercepted and admitted he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Walker reel it in and speed past Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary.
"Me and him had a quick little whisper to each other and I just tried to draw in Keary and then I popped it through to him," Kelly said after the game on Friday night.
"We didn't really plan for it. We just sort of looked at each other and knew it was on.
"It was just an instinct thing between me and him.
"It sort of happened real quick, it was funny I looked up and Walks is usually on the other side of the field, it was pretty good play. We do a lot of training with ball skills, so it all just happened."
It's been a whirlwind start to the season for the former Gold Coast Titans Holden Cup star, but Kelly said he was relishing the move away from Ballina, with him and his girlfriend settling in well into their new place in Dee Why on Sydney's northern beaches.
The 20-year-old has impressed with four tries from five appearances in 2017, but it's his work without the ball that deserves plenty of plaudits.
Kelly was tasked with trying to contain representative star Blake Ferguson and he more than held his own, limiting the Australia and NSW winger to just 104 metres.
It was a special moment given Kelly had idolised Ferguson as he came up through the ranks, and the Sea Eagles rookie hopes to follow in his footsteps of playing for the Indigenous All Stars before one day going on to represent his state and country.
"I was pinching myself out there. I had to get that first tackle out of the way and it released the nerves," he said.
"I just wanted to make my one-on-one tackles with him and I thought I went alright.
"I was just happy to get down here and do a full preseason at Manly and hopefully get a crack at a debut throughout the year.
"I still pinch myself that I'm playing.
"I still have to work on a lot of things, especially my defence, but I'm slowly working up to it."