Brian Kelly was forced to leave the Gold Coast Titans at the end of 2016 to make his NRL debut with Manly but he's not bitter about it. He's just glad to be back at Titans HQ and close to his extended family down the road at Ballina after securing a release from the final year of his Sea Eagles contract.
The 22-year-old played three seasons of under 20s for the Titans from 2014-2016 but the Gold Coast elected to give John Olive a crack at the NRL instead of Kelly. His management secured a release to join Manly where Kelly played 47 NRL games in two seasons.
Kelly said the opportunity to return to the Titans "popped up" after Konrad Hurrell's exit to the English Super League, and his move was seamless.
"I flew in (to the Gold Coast) Sunday afternoon so it happened fairly quick," Kelly said after training with the Titans on Tuesday.
"I met with Des (Manly coach Des Hasler) and I was honest with him. I said I've got family up home and little nephews and nieces that I'd love to catch up with more often... but I really enjoyed my experience down at Manly with Baz (Trent Barrett)."
Kelly said he was guaranteed of nothing at the Titans and pointed to the competition for centre positions that he would have with Dale Copley, Brenko Lee and fellow new recruit Tyrone Peachey.
A Titans supporter as a youth, Kelly is hoping he never has to leave again. He said being overlooked for Olive three seasons ago did not play on his mind.
"That is just competition, like it is here today," he said.
"That is how I got the opportunity to go to Manly. I took that and I feel like I have matured from that.
"I used to go for the Titans growing up, watching Preston [Campbell] and Scotty Prince.
"With footy you never know where you are going to go, but realistically I'd love to finish off my career here.
"With the new recruits, the staff, the players coming up through the ranks and the players already here we can definitely give the top eight a crack."
Titans captain Ryan James said the club was fortunate to have Kelly back on board and predicted big things for the Country and Prime Minister's XIII representative.
"It was sad to see him go but I was proud to see him go on and make his NRL debut at Manly. I'm excited to have him back because he has gone on to become one of the better centres in the NRL I believe," James told NRL.com.
"It doesn't look like he is strong but he just seems to break tackles and find the way to the line as well. Being back home hopefully gets the best out of him."
With his parents and siblings in Ballina and the beach lifestyle to his liking, Kelly said he would slot back into Gold Coast life with ease after living at Dee Why for the past two years.
He is also looking forward to playing alongside Peachey who he forged a friendship with on the PM's XIII tour of PNG.
"I was roomies with him for a couple of days and we clicked pretty well so it was good to catch up with him again," Kelly said.