We may only be a few weeks into 2023 but it is already shaping up to be a massive year for Matari Kelly.
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Kelly will lineup for Kurt Hancock's Western Rams Andrew Johns Cup side on Sunday at Tony Luchetti Sportsground when the home side faces Macarthur Wests Tigers in round one of the competition.
Sunday will be Kelly's first taste of Rams football and he can't wait to get on the park with the rest of his team.
"I'm a little bit nervous but I'm feeling pretty good, it's exciting," he said.
The Dubbo College student will come off the bench for the Rams under 16s side and help provide a spark out of hooker when called upon by Hancock.
Ahead of their first match, Kelly said the team should come out firing after their last training session during the week.
"We had a training session on Thursday where we ran through some plays and stuff so we got a look at what we were doing," he said.
Playing his local football for St Johns, Kelly recently returned to Dubbo after representing the NSW under 16s Koori team who faced off against QLD Murri in Beenleigh.
Although they lost the game 32-10, Kelly managed to score a darting try out of dummy half in the match and loved every minute of the lead-in.
"That was a good experience, it was nice even though we lost it was pretty cool," he said.
"It was mad, some of the coaches were great as well."
The squad got the opportunity to train under the watch of Coonamble's Jesse Ramien, a man who has gone on to become one of the best centres in the NRL with Cronulla.
Also in the lead into the match, the NSW group had a session at the Brisbane Broncos' NRL headquarters at Red Hill.
Rubbing shoulders with former NRL stars is something Kelly does on a regular basis, being coached by Joe Williams at club level.
Williams, Kelly and the St Johns Dubbo Under 15s Gold side took out the Group 10 title last year against Bloomfield.
Kelly scored in the decider as well and earned a lot of praise from Williams, especially after the group had to travel each week to play games outside of Dubbo.
Fellow St Johns Rugby League products Darby Haycock and Rex Bassingthwaighte have also been named to play for Western on Sunday while Tristan Keed is the squad.
Ajay Isbester-Boss will represent Western Rams in the under 18s side this weekend with Shane Rodney coaching the team.
All the action at Lithgow will begin at 11am with the under 16s match leading into the 18s game.
All the matches will be live-streamed via NSWRLTV.
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