CENTRAL Newcastle coach Paul Davis is gutted that Albert Kelly’s days in Butcher Boys colours appear numbered.
The Newcastle Rugby League sent an email to all clubs on Monday morning reminding them of the rule regarding players backing up from Knights NSW Cup duty.
It states that any player named in the starting line-up for the Knights cannot play for their local league club on the same weekend.
Kelly started in the Knights side who beat Mounties 44-8 at Cessnock Sportsground on Saturday.
The former Cronulla five-eighth then played for the Butcher Boys on Sunday in their 64-24 loss to Cessnock at St John Oval.
Barring a 10-minute spell in the sin-bin for a professional foul, Kelly played the full game for Central.
A player can back up in the local league after playing 70minutes for the Knights, as long as they started on the interchange bench.
The rule is based on whether a player starts for the Knights, not on how many minutes they play.
Clubs are paid $300 by the Knights for every match their player is unavailable due to NSW Cup commitments.
‘‘We’re a bit angry with it, but they’re the rules and they’ve been put in place,’’ Davis said.
‘‘We’ve just got to play it by ear, so if he’s not in that starting line-up and only on the reserves bench, then we’re going to play him.’’
Kelly was brought to Newcastle by Davis, who is his uncle, after he was released by Cronulla. Once in town he attracted the interest of the Knights and is now on a second-tier contract.
But it is understood Kelly is paid more to play for Central and has been enthusiastic about backing up for the blue-and-whites.
Davis said he felt torn by the situation.
‘‘At club level with Central we’re hoping he doesn’t get named in the starting 13 too often, but for the young bloke to succeed and make the NRL first-grade squad he needs to be named in the starting 13,’’ he said.
Kelly has been named at five-eighth for Saturday’s match against Newtown at Henson Park, ruling him out of Central’s game on Saturday against Maitland.
Due to season-ending injuries to Kurt Gidley and Ryan Stig, Central are likely to see little of Kelly and their other Knights signing, halfback Adrian Davis.
Newcastle Rugby League general manager John Fahey said it was an oversight that allowed Kelly to play for Central on Sunday and said there would be no sanctions imposed on the club.
‘‘It’s the first time it’s come up and you wouldn’t even say it was broken, as it wasn’t deliberate,’’ Fahey said.