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Brian Kelly doesn’t have to see his father sitting in the stands to know he is there.

The Titans centre’s allocation of six tickets for each home game is always quickly snapped up by his Ballina-based family - Mum, Dad and siblings the first to be looked after.

When Gold Coast run out against the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon the Kelly gang will be in their usual spot in the north-west corner of the stadium.

Kelly normally gives his family a wave in between warm-up drills. But if Kelly senior doesn’t catch his son’s eye, it doesn’t take long before he makes his presence known.

“I don’t really need to see them in the crowd because I can always hear my Dad - he's a bit of a loud mouth,” Kelly told

“He’s always yelling out my nickname, ‘Bud’. If I don’t see him I can always hear him in the background.

“He’ll yell out some encouragement but it’s probably more that I need to do something better. ‘Do this Bud’ or ‘Do that Bud’. That’s Dad.”

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Brian Kelly snr was a legend himself in Northern Rivers Rugby League.

Predominantly a centre or five-eighth, he played just about everywhere, having stints with the Ballina Seagulls, Lennox Head Dolphins, South Lismore Rabbits and Mullumbimby Giants. He finally hung up the boots after a season in reserve grade for the Byron Bay Red Devils.

He was in his mid-40s by that stage but never had the opportunity to play with Brian junior, not even at the Koori Knockout.

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“I tried to get him to have a game with me three years ago at the Knockout,” Kelly jnr remembers.

“He was keen. The mind was telling him to play but the body couldn’t do it.

“Around the Northern Rivers – places like Lismore and Ballina – he was pretty well known. Lennox Head, Woodburn, South Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay - he's been all over the Northern Rivers.

“I have a faint memory of him playing. He was in his 40s and playing reserve grade for Byron Bay. I remember going to watch him play when I was around five or six years old.”

Now 23 years of age, Kelly has been drawing comparisons with his father for more than a decade.

When he was 10 he was selected in the North Coast team to contest the Primary School Sports Association at Cudgen in 2007, emulating his father who was also a North Coast schoolboy representative.

Kelly was coached for two years by his father at Ballina and still receives plenty of tips.

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“Dad’s always coaching me even to this day. That’s what dads are for, they always think they know more,” Kelly said.

“I listen to Dad. I like his little inputs here and there. Some of the things he says [Titans coach] Garth [Brennan] has already spoken to me about but it’s always good to hear what Dad has to say too.

“Two of my junior years at Ballina he coached me but he was always at training and helping out anyway.”

And while his father may have never reached the heights of the NRL, the debate as to who is the better footballer is likely to rage for a little longer yet.

“He reckons he would have had me back in his prime time,” Kelly says.

“We’re always mucking around about that.”

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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