He cut his rugby league teeth rubbing shoulders with the likes of Mark Carroll and Wayne Pearce, and now Cooma man Jason Kelly hopes to bring everything he's learned during a lifetime in the sport to the Tuggeranong Bushrangers.
Kelly has signed on as head coach of the Bushrangers next season, replacing Jarrad Teka who has returned to New Zealand for family reasons.
The Cooma local, who played for Tuggeranong in the late 1990s, takes charge of a side which was second from bottom in the Canberra Raiders Cup when the league was cancelled due to Canberra's lockdown in late August.
"Obviously their depth wasn't great this year, but they have some good players in the comp some good young talent there," Kelly said.
"We'll be looking to bring a few extras in to bolster the squad and hopefully have a little bit more depth there and a little bit more competition week in and week out for first grade spots.
"The week-to-week challenge playing in that competition, there is a lot of good opposition there and it's a challenge every week, so that's going to be the best part for me. And also trying to get the best out of the playing group that's what I enjoy doing and I can't wait."
Kelly went straight from school into a three-year deal with the South Sydney Rabbitohs where he played Presidents Cup and Reserve Grade.
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Wayne Pearce then took him across to the Balmain Tigers.
Since retiring as a player, Kelly has coached Monaro representative teams, and the NSW under-18s Country team.
"There's a lot of great coaches and a lot of well known former NRL players in camp with those sides," Kelly said.
"You take a lot away, there are some very smart people around those rep sides and to be able to mix it in that sort of company and know that it just gives you a lot of confidence going forward being able to operate in that sort of environment.
"It just gives you a wealth of knowledge the input from those around you is fantastic. And you learn something every day in those settings."
Meanwhile, Canberra Region Rugby League has decided to only award minor premierships for its abandoned 2021 season.
The Gungahlin Bulls finished on top in the Canberra Raiders Cup while Goulburn and Yass have shared the Katrina Fanning Shield minor premiership.