Melissa Woods June 09, 2012
Luke Kelly's first NRL game for Melbourne since 2010 was his last with the promising young half joining Parramatta on a two-year deal with immediate effect.
The Eels confirmed the signing of the 22-year-old on Saturday with Parramatta looking to bolster their ranks in the halves after losing five-eighth Casey McGuire to a season ending pectoral muscle injury.
Kelly was Melbourne's halfback for the bulk of their clash with Wests Tigers at AAMI Park on Friday night but couldn't help steer his side to a win with the visitors getting up 10-6.
The youngster has battled a series of injuries that stalled his career in Melbourne, restricting him to just six NRL games for the Storm.
He was first choice to play five-eighth ahead of Gareth Widdop in 2011 before suffering a pre-season injury setback.
Kelly was captain of the triumphant Storm Under 20s team in 2009 and man-of-the-match in their grand final victory.
The No.7 didn't have a happy game against the Tigers with his kicking game and some of his attacking options poor.
But the Storm, and obviously Parramatta where he has ties to their coach, former Melbourne assistant Stephen Kearney, believe he has a bright future.
Melbourne Storm football operations manager Frank Ponissi said the club was happy to allow him to move to the Eels earlier than usual.
"The club totally understands the reasons for Luke's request for an early release," Ponissi said
"It was a difficult decision, however given his tremendous service to Melbourne Storm, we did not want to prevent him taking up the opportunity of playing regular first grade football which he is very capable of doing."
The loss to the Tigers was only Melbourne's second of the season and again proved the value of their spine Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk, who were on Queensland Origin duty.
The trio will be back for their next match, against the Sea Eagles on Monday June 18.
Despite being without his big guns, coach Craig Bellamy was a little disappointed with his side, particularly their execution with the ball in the opening 40 minutes.
"We expected there to be a little bit of confusion in attack at times; to be not quite sure of the calls and where we were going ... but we thought we could have been a little bit better, especially in the first half," Bellamy said.
"To the players credit they got back on the track and made it a real game."