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Late starter making most of AIS trip

2012 NAB AFL U18 Championship - NT v Tasmania
Kade Kolodjashnij playing for Tasmania in last year's national under-18 titles
I didn’t really know anyone when I first got in. It was a little bit daunting coming over not knowing anyone, and not even any coaches
Kade Kolodjashnij
WHEN Tasmanian state academy manager Adam Sanders called Kade Kolodjashnij a week before Christmas to tell the wingman he was a late call-up the AIS-AFL Academy, a few things ran through Kolodjashnij's mind.

First there was the thrill. It was a reward for a good season last year for Launceston, and some promising signs for his state at the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships.

"When I found out I was rapt," he told "I wasn't expecting it."

He had a few thoughts about what it would be like and how he would settle in joining the group midway through the program and the things that would come almost immediately, like spending a week training at Hawthorn.  

And he spent a chunk of time thinking about his twin brother Jake, who also plays for Tasmania in the state team and is striving for the same goal as Kade: to get drafted by an AFL club at the end of the year.

"I really want him to do well," he says. "I worry about him as well. It would be good if he was in this squad as well. We push each other and try to get the best out of ourselves.

"We go out for kicks together, prepare for games together, do touch sessions, go down to the river five minutes away from our place and do recovery sessions.

"I suppose he was a bit disappointed when he didn't get picked but he was happy for me. He's still working hard and also wants to get drafted."

It's always been the way. The pair grew up playing basketball and soccer, before both made the decision to switch to football at 13.
They're finishing school together at St Patrick's College, they recently bought a car, and have been sharing the petrol bills.

"We go halves in a few things," Kolodjashnij said. "That's always handy."

They are different players, though. Kade's run-and-carry was on show in the Academy's game against the European Legion in Surrey on Saturday, and he can play off a flank to create and use his left-foot to set things up.

Jake's a bit taller and a bit stronger, and has played mainly as a key defender.

"We get pretty competitive at times when we're at training," he says.

Kade has faced a few unique challenges – and enjoyed some unique experiences – on tour with the Academy.

He met everyone for the first time at January's AIS camp in Melbourne, and re-joined with the group almost two weeks ago again in Melbourne ahead of the trip to Italy, England and Denmark.

"Most of them know each other already because a lot are from Victoria and have grown up together and playing with and against each other," Kolodjashnij said.

"I didn’t really know anyone when I first got in. It was a little bit daunting coming over not knowing anyone, and not even any coaches.

"Once I got over here they all got around me and made me feel like I belonged."

Kade Kolodjashnij in action against the European Legion on Saturday. Picture: Callum Twomey 

Kolodjashnij (pronounced Kolo-jazz-nee), of Ukraine heritage, last year closely watched Launceston teammates Jesse Lonergan and Jackson Thurlow grow into first-round draft picks. Already he has thought about how he'll adapt having been a part of the group in Europe.

"When I finish this camp I want to go back and eat well and prepare well for games. We've learned a lot about nutrition as well," he said.

"And [the other part is the] intensity. It goes up another notch with a new level and you need to go up with it."

Follow AFL website reporter Callum Twomey on Twitter at @AFL_CalTwomey.