LIFELINE: Albert Kelly playing for Central Newcastle in July. Picture: Brock PerksAFTER blowing opportunities to establish himself as an NRL player with Cronulla and Newcastle, talented utility Albert Kelly has been thrown a lifeline by the Gold Coast Titans.
Kelly hails from Macksville, the same NSW country town as his cousin Greg Inglis.
There were some who felt he was just as talented as Inglis when he headed to Parramatta straight out of high school.
But he has had a turbulent career, sacked mid-season by the Sharks in 2011 and then dumped by Newcastle after a nightclub incident this year.
Kelly has a four-month trial period to show the Titans he is serious about fulfilling his potential and that he wants to get his young life back on track.
Titans football manager Scott Clark said yesterday that the club became aware of Kelly’s plight through their many indigenous community programs.
“His manager came into contact with our guys working in the field and told us about Albert,” Clark said.
“We told him about the opportunities to work with indigenous people off the field and it all stemmed from there. Before you knew it, we were in negotiations about a playing contract as well.”
Kelly, who can play halfback or fullback, will have to tick some boxes before being offered a contract, but he has been given a chance many thought would not come his way again.
“Albert has an opportunity to train with the full-time squad over the off-season and play some trial matches during the pre-season,” Clark said.
“I spoke to him on Wednesday night and I think deep down he knows this could be his last crack, although you’d never say that. We know he can play footy, he’s a great player.
“I’ll never compare anyone to Preston Campbell but Albert’s got that freakish ability to do things that Preston would do on the field.
“He’s also had a child recently, which can sometimes put some perspective into his life.
“We’ve been able to provide a positive environment for other players who’ve had off-field issues in the past, so hopefully Albert can make the most of his opportunity here with the Titans.”
Kelly is the third off-season recruit for the Titans after 19-year-old English fullback Matt Russell signed a two-year deal and former Canberra lower-grade prop Mark Ioane a one-year deal. They will join Queensland representative David Taylor as new faces at the club when the Titans’ pre-season begins on November 5.
● Former Dragon Rangi Chase is weighing up a return to the NRL next season with St George Illawarra.
The 26-year-old Super League playmaker’s move from Castleford to Hull fell through last week due to visa problems.
Chase was the 2011 Super League player of the year.