Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Coach Trent Barrett believes the dreaded ‘second year syndrome’ won’t be of any concern for outstanding young centre Brian Kelly.
“Brian is not in a position in the halves or at full-back where there is a lot of hype around what he is doing and that suits him fine,’’ Barrett said.
“He will be even better this season, so the second year factor won’t worry him.”
The 21-year-old from Ballina on NSW’s North Coast enjoyed a stellar breakout season in the NRL in 2017 after gaining a release a year earlier than expected from the Gold Coast Titans after originally agreeing to join the Sea Eagles on a two-year-deal from 2018.
Kelly’s performances early in the season saw him represent Country Origin on the wing in May. The final City versus Country match was extra special for Brian after his father, Brian Kelly, represented Country Seconds on the wing in 1985.
Following his first senior rep jersey, Kelly went on to finish the 2017 season with eight tries in 23 games for Manly to win the Club’s Rookie of the Year award.
NSW Coach Brad Fittler liked what he saw in Kelly’s debut season and will work with him at the Emerging Blues camp at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, January 13. Joining Kelly in the Emerging Blues squad will be his new Manly team-mates in Lachlan Croker, Jack Gosiewski, and Luke Metcalf.
Barrett said there was plenty to like about Kelly in 2018.
“He is enjoying the benefits of a full pre-season and Dan Ferris (Head of Strength and Conditioning) has done a good job with him.
“Brian is in really good shape and has handled everything we have thrown at him.
“He is a hard trainer. We know what he can do in attack but I think it's defence that will become of the strongest parts of his game in the years to come.”