A few weeks ago he wasn’t allowed to play first grade but Parramatta playmaker Luke Kelly is now hoping a small window of opportunity can keep him in the NRL.
While much speculation surrounds both the immediate and long-term future of enigmatic Eels halfback Chris Sandow, his off-contract scrumbase partner is enduring an equally frustrating season.
Two months ago, second tier salary cap restraints forced coach Brad Arthur to punt Kelly to the NSW Cup and re-instate Sandow in his place.
At the time, Kelly wondered how he’d be able to prove his worth again.
“That’s probably where most of my frustration came from,” Kelly explained on Friday.
“To be held back by something totally out of your control, it made it quite difficult.
“You’re back there but you know that coach wants you to play first grade and you can’t be there. It was really challenging.”
A cheekbone injury to first-choice fullback Reece Robinson against Melbourne in Round 14 meant Arthur had to shuffle Corey Norman to the back, while the club was granted an exemption to again play Kelly in the halves.
The Eels have since won three of their past five and are in serious contention for the top eight.
But with Robinson due to return in two weeks, Kelly’s eligibility for first grade again looks a little uncertain just as he had begun proving himself a strong foil for the unpredictable Sandow.
“I’m not sure what the situation is going forward but hopefully I can continue to keep playing,” Kelly said.
The 25-year-old revealed his management had opened negotiations with the club to extend his stay at Parramatta beyond this season and finally join their top 25 squad.
“I’d definitely love to stay in the NRL. Hopefully some good performances in the future can shore that up,” he said.
“I’ve been talking to club. I’m not sure exactly what’s going on but I’ll know a bit more in the next few weeks.”