Josh Kelly runs out before the Preliminary Final match between Collingwood and Greater Western Sydney at the MCG September 22, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

IT'S THE ultimate 'full circle' milestone for Josh Kelly this weekend and that is not lost one bit on the smooth-moving Greater Western Sydney midfielder ahead of his 200th AFL game.

The 2017 All-Australian will bring up the landmark against North Melbourne on Saturday afternoon at Engie Stadium, becoming the fastest Giant to reach 200 games in history.

And it will occur against the team that his father played for, the side he grew up supporting wholeheartedly and the club he rejected a multi-million-dollar deal from to stay in Sydney's west.

"It adds a little bit to it. It is special in that sense. I grew up supporting the Roos, Dad played for them, so there is a connection for myself there," Kelly said.

"There's a few photos that were (published) this week, not even I'd seen them for a little while, so that was pretty cool."

Those pictures saw Kelly, who was still so youthful he was missing a front tooth, in full Kangaroos gear alongside North Melbourne greats Anthony Stevens, Brent Harvey and Glenn Archer.

"I think 'Boomer' (Harvey) commented on the Giants' post, Jess Sinclair sent me a message, he was one of my favourite players growing up, so there are those moments where it does feel a bit full circle in that sense.

"You are able to reflect and look back and put yourself in the position when you were just a young kid looking up to AFL players. To be in this position now, is definitely something that is pretty special for myself," Kelly added.

>> Giants fans, get along to Engie Stadium on Saturday to help honour retired Giants great Phil Davis. You can watch the club's new documentary on Davis' trailblazing career HERE

That powerful connection to the Roos meant North Melbourne was confident its massive play for his services in 2017 would prove successful in a contract saga that was played out publicly for well over a year.

The two-time Kevin Sheedy Medallist ultimately opted to commit to GWS in a decision that will likely see him play out his career at the club and a call that seems vindicated by the contrasting fortunes of both teams.


"Yeah, it was definitely an interesting time. A season is probably underselling it, it probably went on for a bit longer," Kelly joked.

"It was just a time where I was considering options, I was never one way or the other. There were obviously ties to the club through Dad and myself supporting them growing up, so there was always a bit of a pull there, but at the end of the day I always felt a real connection to this club and the relationships that I've built here and I've always felt success is around the corner for us as well.

"It's not something I ever needed to justify or vindicate. But when you combine all those things together, I think we're in a pretty special position to be competing for premierships each year with a club and culture that is pretty special and it's definitely not something I take for granted," he added.

As for dad Phil, who played 61 games for North Melbourne, he too is all-in on the Orange Tsunami.

"He's definitely Giants now. He's confidently Giants. The whole family have the orange scarves on. I'll have family and friends coming up as well, which will be nice.

Josh Kelly at Greater Western Sydney training, March 14, 2023. Picture: Phil Hillyard

"As much as it's been me out on the field, the people that have been there along the way and who've been there for conversations, hopefully they feel like it's a bit of achievement for themselves as well."

Fresh off their opening round win over Collingwood, the Giants are warm favourites to celebrate Kelly's milestone with a victory over North Melbourne.

>> Win a $70K Toyota in AFL Fantasy! Sign up NOW

Those hopes are likely to be boosted further with the likely return from injury of tough utility Harry Perryman and gun youngster Finn Callaghan, who spent large parts of last season dovetailing positionally with Kelly between on-ball and the wing.

"It's something that we can challenge the opposition with, Xavier O'Halloran has been doing it a bit as well. We are able to flip our positions, provide a bit of confusion, and play two positions as well.


"Hopefully it's something we can make a bit of a strength of ours," Kelly said.

And if the Giants can produce the slick football they displayed in the second half against Collingwood that blew the premiers away, the noise around their home stadium may be as noteworthy as it was in their season opener.

Kelly is certainly calling for much of the same from the Giants faithful.

Giants fans celebrate victory during the Opening Round match between Greater Western Sydney and Collingwood at ENGIE Stadium, March 9, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"The momentum we have at the moment and the feeling in the crowd on the weekend is amazing.

"It's another thing that this club should be really proud of. We just have to keep at it. I think the high-vis vests on the weekend are pretty cool as well. I reckon we can maybe make that a thing around Australia. Get out your vest.

"The atmosphere, the crowd was active. It's definitely going to be a fortress going forward," Kelly said.