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Off-field prankster, on-field star: Kelly hits 250

Underrated Kelly does it quietly Watch the best of key Cat James Kelly in the lead-up to his 250th
Success is addictive, I want to win another premiership
James Kelly

A LARRIKIN at heart, Geelong's James Kelly knows when to switch on and be serious.

Off the field he is the locker-room prankster, enjoying watching his teammates' stunned faces when they become victims to another gag.

However, the three-time premiership Cat is all business on the field, renowned for his ruthless attack on the football and the man.

Kelly, 30, tells the AFL Record he enjoys the banter shared with his teammates, while those at Geelong point to his ability to switch on at the appropriate times.

"You can't walk around the whole time with tunnel vision; it just doesn't work," Kelly says.

On the eve of his 250th game, against North Melbourne on Saturday night, Kelly looks back on his career fondly.

He has enjoyed plenty of highs – including the 2007, 2009 and 2011 premierships.

Kelly was also selected in the 2011 All Australian team, alongside teammates Matthew Scarlett and Corey Enright, and coach Chris Scott.

He is content with how his career has unfolded, but believes there is still an unwritten chapter.

"If I was to retire tomorrow, I'd retire happy," he says.

"Having said that, I still think there's a lot of improvement in our team this year."

The Cats, as they invariably have been for the best part of a decade, are in premiership contention.

Geelong sits third on the ladder, equal on 52 points with the Sydney Swans and Hawthorn, with five rounds remaining.

Kelly highlights the progression of the club's young players as a key to Geelong's ability to remain successful.

Players such as Mitch Duncan, Allen Christensen and Steven Motlop are taking on more responsibility and driving the team's standards, sometimes ahead of the club's more experienced players.

Kelly wants to share the feeling of winning a flag with his younger teammates.

"Success is addictive," Kelly says. "I want to win another premiership and there's a lot of our young guys who want to taste that success."

After a down year in 2013, Kelly has bounced back in a big way this season.

Transitioning to a role in defence has aided his form, while it has also allowed the likes of Duncan, George Horlin-Smith and Cameron Guthrie the chance to play more in the midfield.

“The younger guys are starting to drive the direction of the club and when they play really well our team plays well."

Read the full James Kelly story in the round 19 edition of the AFL Record, available at all grounds.