DELISTED Hawthorn defender Jordan Kelly is refusing to accept that his AFL dream is over, saying a lack of opportunity at the Hawks doesn't mean he deserves to be cast on the scrapheap.
The 21-year-old spent three years at Waverley trying to crack a game in the powerful Hawks outfit.
But he wasn't successful, and two weeks after Hawthorn claimed back-to-back flags, coach Alastair Clarkson delivered the crushing news that Kelly's contract would not be renewed.
"He kind of talked me up but then said I couldn't break into the team to kick out a (Grant) Birchall, who has been All-Australian, or a (Matt) Suckling, who has really good skills," Kelly told
"But he thinks I deserve an opportunity at another club."
While the news came as a blow, the versatile 191cm backman remains optimistic that the curtain has not been drawn on his AFL career.
"I was pretty disappointed, but then after that I saw it as an opportunity and a new challenge to try and get back to the AFL system," said Kelly, who was taken with pick No.38 in the 2011 NAB AFL Draft.
"There weren't that many opportunities (at Hawthorn) and then whoever got their opportunity took it. I was waiting in the wings for mine, but unfortunately didn't get it.
"But I reckon as soon as I get that opportunity to put my print on the game I'll definitely make the most of it and hopefully cement my spot in a team elsewhere.
"I'm hungrier than ever."
Kelly has attracted interest from one other Melbourne club since he was delisted and believes the rookie draft is his best shot at getting a second chance.
He is confident that his VFL form proves he is ready for the next level.
Last season, Kelly played 20 matches across half-back and pinch-hitting up forward, where he booted seven goals.
He also performed negating roles in midfield late in the season and he was listed in Box Hill's best players nine times.
Kelly has kept his fitness up since the Grand Final loss to Footscray and has recently started training with Sandringham in a bid to ensure he's ready to go if that opportunity comes along.
But if it doesn't happen for him this year, he won't give up easily.
"Regardless, I'm going to keep training hard and leave no stone unturned to get back in the AFL system," Kelly said.
"My luck might not be on my side this time, but as long as I keep my head down thing should change."