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Mature-age recruit may be Cats' new running man

Tim Kelly, second from right, with Geelong's other draftees - and veterans Gary Ablett and Stewart Crameri - AFL,Geelong Cats,Tim Kelly,Steven Motlop
Tim Kelly, second from right, with Geelong's other draftees - and veterans Gary Ablett and Stewart Crameri

THE STEVEN Motlop era at Geelong may be over, but the Cats are hopeful one of their newest recruits can help replace the run and carry they lost following his departure to Port Adelaide.

There's no doubt Gary Ablett will offer some of that, but it's mature-age draftee Tim Kelly, 23, who appears best suited to step in and be that important link man between midfield and forward.

And coach Chris Scott has hinted Cats fans may get to find out what Kelly can bring early in the 2018 season.

"He's mature in ways outside of footy which is really going to help him," Scott said.

"The most important thing is that he looks like he can play."

The West Australian has had to grow up quickly in the last few years.

Kelly already has a two-year-old son named Tykeem and now partner of six years Caitlin is expecting twin boys in January.

Kelly finished second in the WAFL's Sandover Medal despite heavy attention from opposition clubs and performed strongly at the 2017 NAB AFL Draft Combine to convince the Cats he was worth giving a chance to at the top level.

Scott believes Kelly is ready to take his chance.

"He seems a really mature 23-year-old," Scott said.

"He's spent at least the last year working hard as an electrician, so he knows what hard work is like on top of his footy responsibilities."

Geelong granted Kelly leave to fly back to WA to complete the final exams in his electrical apprenticeship earlier this week and he will remain in Perth with his family over the Christmas break.

The twins are expected to be born sometime in January before Caitlin, Tykeem and Tim relocate to a place in Geelong once the Cats begin training again.

While the last two months being away from his family have been tough, Kelly already looks settled in based on what he has been able to produce on the training track.

The veteran of six unsuccessful drafts, whose dream finally came true when the Cats selected him with pick No.24 in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, has already made an impact on Scott.

Kelly's ability to first win the ball at the stoppage and then burst clear from congestion and have the confidence to take the game on puts him in contention for a senior berth early in the season.

Motlop ranked second in the AFL for bounces (64) behind only clear-cut winner Adam Saad (93), who has also coincidentally moved clubs – to Essendon – in the off-season.

The speedy Motlop averaged 321.9 metres gained in 2017 and although his form was up and down, his ability to break a game open will be missed.

Scott said he was looking forward to seeing what Kelly could produce in the hoops.

"He's the one we've brought in that we think might be able to help us (with our run and carry)," Scott said.

"It didn't work in that order (losing Motlop and drafting Kelly), it was just us thinking he was the best player and it also happens that he's ready to play."