Smith-Shields puts heat on Kelly in Titans centre quest

New Gold Coast signing Harley Smith-Shields didn’t join the club to play reserve grade and says he intends to push Brian Kelly all the way for a left centre position in the NRL.

Smith-Shields, recruited from Canberra in the off-season, will get his chance to shine in Sunday’s NRL pre-season trial against the Dolphins on the Sunshine Coast.

On Monday he was wearing Kansas City gear at training, just hours before the Chiefs prevailed against San Francisco to win NFL's Super Bowl.

He will be hoping that was an omen for how Sunday will pan out for him.

Harley Smith-Shields.
Harley Smith-Shields gets a feel for his new surroundings during Titans training on the Gold Coast.

The 24-year-old was asked what coach Des Hasler has said to him about where he might play and where he stood in the pecking order

"Left centre behind BK (Kelly) I believe," Smith-Shields said.

"BK has held that position the last few years and done really well there. We will just see what happens but if I got the opportunity to play first grade I would be looking to take it with both hands.

"I will definitely be looking to put my best foot forward on Sunday and put on a good show."

Kelly has been a regular Titans centre in recent years but in a side that has underperformed. He has no claim on the left centre position and Smith-Shields can take it if he’s good enough.

The former Raider can play anywhere in the outside backs, and is willing to, but it is centre that he has his eye on after also training on the wing in the pre-season.

"It is a stacked backline but centre is my most comfortable position," he said.

Smith-Shields was Canberra's rookie of the year in 2021 and appeared set for a massive 2022 before he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on the cusp of the season.

Harley Smith-Shields.
Harley Smith-Shields scores a try for Canberra against Manly during the 2021 NRL season.

"It was definitely frustrating," he said.

"Last year I was just finding my feet again after the injury but now I’ve had a full pre-season here.

"In Canberra, being a local junior, I went from 16s, 18s to 20s and into first grade. I think the change was right for me, just to mix things up and experience something else."

Smith-Shields is close to his brothers Jese and Dale who inspired his football dream. Jese even donated part of his hamstring to assist in Harley’s ACL rebuild.

"I didn’t even know it was a possibility until it happened and he reminds me of it all the time. It is special and it is going to be special for us always," Smith-Shields said.

"I have another brother Dale, and he and Jesse came through the juniors at Canberra before me. That was the reason why I started playing football. Everything I do is to repay them."

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