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Winging it: Young Crow relishing his new role

Jake Kelly is relishing the opportunity to play more on the wing - AFL,Adelaide Crows,Jake Kelly
Jake Kelly is relishing the opportunity to play more on the wing

AFTER eight years as a defender, Adelaide winger Jake Kelly is relishing the opportunity to unleash his running ability higher up the ground.

Kelly was thrown on to the wing when Rory Atkins was dropped for the Crows' round 15 encounter with West Coast.

Atkins is now back in the side, but Kelly has remained as part of the wing rotation while also spending time in defence.

"I'm loving it," Kelly told AFL.com.au.

"I was moved to the wing four weeks ago, and am probably playing 60 to 70 per cent on the wing, and about 30 per cent back.

"I'd been playing as a defender since Year 11 (at school), and sometimes you can get into auto-pilot at times down back.

"It's been massive for me and a new challenge."

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Kelly, the son of Collingwood premiership defender Craig, was quiet in his first game on the wing, having just nine disposals in the 10-point win over the Eagles.

But the 23-year-old has slowly got himself more involved, with 16 and 17 disposals respectively in the past two games against Richmond and Geelong.

"They (the coaches) decided to utilise a few more guys through that position, rather than just have two set guys in Rory (Atkins) and Paul (Seedsman), and a bit of David Mackay," Kelly said.

"Now, it's me, Wayne Milera's going through there, Paul's going through there, Rory Atkins is going through there and Dave will go through there.

 

"It's more about getting more numbers through there and more run and more speed, rather than having the same guys there the whole time."

Kelly is one of the strongest runners at the Crows and is always near the front of the pre-season 2km time trials.

The biggest adjustment for Kelly – who is yet to kick a goal in his 49 games – is allowing himself to shake his defensive instincts and run hard forward when the opportunity presents itself.

"Sometimes when you've been playing as a defender for eight years, it's not the first thing in your head to push in the forward half," he said.

"I found in the first game, when I got to the forward 50, I would just stop and wait and play as a defender effectively.

"It's getting that defensive mindset out of my head to a degree and playing more as a wingman."

Kelly, who re-signed with the club last year until the end of 2019, plays his 50th career game against Brisbane at the Gabba on Saturday night.

 

He isn't sure if the move to the wing is permanent, or if he will revert to defence once Mackay has recovered from his rib injury.

"I'd like to think in my development as a player that I can play in the midfield and go back," Kelly said.

"I think that would be my ideal role in a side, but that's up for debate.

"It does suit me as a role and complements my running ability, but then I can also go back and lock down an opponent in the forward line, which I've always loved to do, so I think it works well both ways."