IF there is one person who knows how big rugby league is in the Northern Territory it is Luke Kelly.
The classy halfback was born and raised in the NT and played all his junior rugby league from the age of 4 to 16 for the Katherine Bushrangers.
It makes last week's partnership between the Parramatta Eels and the Northern Territory Government even more significant.
In each of the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons, the Eels will play an NRL pre-season trial in Alice Springs and an NRL premiership match in the capital city of Darwin.
"I'm definitely excited — not only for myself and the club, but a lot of my family back home are extremely excited as well," Kelly said.
"You'd be surprised; everyone knows the players and has a team that they support, and going up there next year you'll see how much support not only rugby league has in general, but the Parramatta Eels as well," he said. "The community up there will be very excited to have us."
Apart from the pre-season football game in Alice Springs and the regular season game in Darwin, the Eels will be participating in many community activities.
Rugby league was first played in the Northern Territory in 1938. In 2013 there are more than 2000 registered players, 71 teams and 15 clubs. "I know I can speak on behalf of all the boys when I say that we are very much looking forward to getting some hands on involvement in the various community programs that the club will be taking part of," Kelly said.