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Magpies make call on son of premiership hero

Jake Kelly is hoping to be chosen at the NAB National Draft rather than wait for rookie selection
I knew at the start of the year (the chances of Collingwood guaranteeing a spot were) going to be tight
Jake Kelly
JAKE Kelly has always wanted to play for Collingwood and that remains a possibility, despite the club telling him it wouldn't be nominating him as a father-son draft selection.

Kelly last week spoke with the Magpies, who informed him of their position.

But they did offer some hope for the 18-year-old son of 1990 premiership defender Craig Kelly.

The club told Kelly that if he slipped through the NAB AFL Draft, they would consider nominating him as a rookie father-son selection, which means under a new rule they would have access to automatically pre-list him before that draft on November 26.

Kelly doesn't want it to get to that – he wants to be drafted to a senior list like every other player at this week's NAB AFL Draft Combine. But he did feel good that he had made it a harder decision for Collingwood to make.

"I knew at the start of the year I wasn't going to be like Luke McDonald (who is likely to cost North Melbourne a first-round pick as a father-son) so I knew that it was going to be tight," Kelly told AFL.com.au.

"But Derek [Hine], (Collingwood list manager) said I made them think about it, which was pleasing. To get to there, I guess I have to be happy about that.

"I didn't think I'd be here at the start of the year. I was way off the radar, and I didn't even play for Oakleigh last year. I wasn't even on the list with Oakleigh."

That lack of exposure meant Kelly didn't enter the year with any expectations.

First he wanted to establish himself at TAC Cup level with the Oakleigh Chargers, then play state footy for Vic Metro.

But having missed out on his aim to make Vic Metro's under-18 side, Kelly pushed his name forward with some strong showings in the VFL.

He played three games with Collingwood's side in the state-league competition, including an elimination final.

He thinks his performances against senior and experienced players, including many on AFL lists, gave him the chance to attend the combine, where he has a few interviews scheduled with clubs.

Whatever happens from here, Kelly has ended the season more confident in himself, his footy, and where it might be able to take him.

"The first VFL game was a bit to get used to, but the second game I was really happy with. You can't switch off. It's easier to drift out at TAC level but I found it was so much more thinking and structural at VFL," he said.

"I remember in Bendigo the ball came up and in TAC Cup I would have been like 'Yeah, sweet, I'll punch this over the boundary line', but in the VFL all of a sudden this guy cracked me to the ground. That's the difference.

"But it was really pleasing. I thought it was going to be a bit to fit in, and I didn't do anything special, but I found my feet pretty easily which was good."

Twitter: @AFL_CalTwomey