JAMES Kelly will never forget his first game in first grade with the Port Macquarie Sharks.
It was a little over a decade ago when the Sharks tackled the Sydney Roosters in a pre-season trial match.
He learned very quickly where not to put his head when he came off second best trying to tackle Shane Shackleton from the kick-off.
It was an insight into the man who has a reputation with his teammates as being the toughest in the black, white and blue.
"I don't remember my first round game, but my first first grade game was against the Sydney Roosters in a trial match in 2008," Kelly said.
"I got knocked out in the first tackle trying to tackle Shane Shackleton; I got kneed straight in the head because I went low on him."
Eleven years on, the 29-year-old will run out in first grade game number 100 for the club when the Sharks aim to keep their season alive against Wauchope.
It will be the third and final item to complete Kelly's rugby league trifecta that he's ticked off in the space of a year.
"I set a couple of goals for myself a couple of years back," he said.
"One was to win a comp which I did last year, another was to captain a few games which I've done this year and the other was to make 100 games.
"I've knocked off all three in the space of 12 months."
Fittingly, Kelly will reach the 100-game milestone against one of the clubs in the competition he had arguably the most respect for.
"Wauchope is my favourite team to play," he said.
"You know what you'll get from them. It's tough, it's hard, there's not much rubbish in it; they're a lot like us."
Unsurprisingly, the Sharks' grand final success last year rates highly on Kelly's highlights with the club although their 2016 grand final appearance also received a mention.
"The grand final (last year) was pretty big; it was the main one and even though we lost in 2016 it was good to make a grand final," he said
Kelly ruled out playing in 200 games for the club, suggesting either this season or next season was likely to be his last.
It would no doubt be music to the ears of wife Maddison.
"I don't think the body can handle any more; this year or maybe one more year will be it I reckon," he said.
First grade kicks off at 3pm at Regional Stadium on Saturday.
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