From left, Max Beecher (Ballina Seagulls), David Krause (Marist Brothers), Denis Meaney, former Australian and Western Suburbs player Noel Kelly and Brothers captain Brendan Brooke.
From left, Max Beecher (Ballina Seagulls), David Krause (Marist Brothers), Denis Meaney, former Australian and Western Suburbs player Noel Kelly and Brothers captain Brendan Brooke.

Kelly takes credit

FORMER Australian rugby league hooker Noel Kelly believes he was the one that turned Marist Brothers and Ballina club stalwart Denis Meaney into a hard-nosed prop during their time playing together at Western Suburbs in the 1960s.

Kelly, who was on hand to support Meaney at the second annual Denis Meaney Shield clash between Rams and Ballina at Kingsford Smith Park on Sunday, had plenty to say about his old mate.

“I first met Denis at the (Western Suburbs) Magpies in 1961,” Kelly said.

“He was a big, blonde bombshell and was way too nice for a front-rower.

“I'd be knocking blokes to the ground and Denis would go over and help them back to their feet.”

Kelly finally got his message across when a cheeky halfback landed a cheap shot on Meaney midway through the season.

“I told Denis that he needed to start stamping a bit of authority,” Kelly joked.

“I had to do my best to turn him into an artist and let him know what a square-up was.

“We finally played that team again later in the season and Denis absolutely dropped this halfback fair into the ground,” he said.

“From there he came on leaps and bounds and started whacking blokes back.”

Kelly will spend another two weeks at his holiday unit on the Gold Coast ahead of game three of the 2011 State of Origin series next Wednesday night.

He was quick to throw his support behind Wests Tigers bookend Keith Galloway and his selection in a 20-man squad for the series decider. “He has a bit of that ranger anger about him and isn't afraid to have a go,” Kelly said.

“I've met him a few times and he's a good, hard worker, who won't take a backward step.

“I think Chris Heighington is unlucky not to be there too.

“He must be getting close to a call-up. They (NSW) always seem to have a bundle of good players that don't get selected.”

Kelly was happy to sit on the fence about picking an Origin winner after playing for Queensland and New South Wales teams during the 1950s and 1960s.

“I played for Queensland first and back in those days New South Wales would always win,” Kelly said.

“I wanted to play for New South Wales to test myself, because it was the home of rugby league and anyone who was anyone played there.

“It's funny how things change. I really can't pick a winner next week.”



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