GREATER Western Sydney stand-in captain Josh Kelly will wait until later in the season before deciding his future.
Kelly's current contract ends this year where he's due to become a restricted free agent, but he has the option to sign an eight-year extension worth around $1million per year.
A contract of that length would see Kelly join a growing group of Giants' players that coach Leon Cameron calls “lifers”.
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But the 26-year-old is in no rush to confirm his future at the club.
"At the moment I'm very focused on my football. That's been even more than usual because we lost a few leaders early in the year, so I've really felt the opportunity to take a step up in that area and I haven’t been too focused on my contract,” Kelly told AFL.com.au.
"I'm enjoying my football and playing with the young group that we've had. It has been a bit different to what we expected going into the year but that has made it exciting.
"At the right time, I’ll sit down and contemplate a few things, but I'm just loving football and playing with a young group.”
Kelly is “really proud” to captain Greater Western Sydney for the first time but doesn’t expect his new role to mean a move back to his preferred midfield position.
The smooth-mover believes placing more importance on his leadership this year has also helped his form improve in such a way that he’s averaging 24 disposals and a goal a game. Kelly has also earned coaches’ votes in four of the past five games.
That sort of form line bodes well for the Giants as Kelly prepares to captain the team against West Coast on Sunday, stepping up with skipper Stephen Coniglio and vice-captain Toby Greene both sidelined.
"It's exciting, I'm looking forward to it. It's a great opportunity and something to be really proud of,” he said.
"I already had a bigger focus on my leadership this year because we lost a few leaders early in the year. In the last month or so I've really tried to step up.
“I’ll try to lead with energy and lead by example out on the field. I’ll keep trying to come out of myself more, and understand that I want to play good footy but there is more to it when you have that responsibility.”
The Giants were led by Callan Ward and Phil Davis when Kelly joined the club via pick No.2 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, until the co-captains handed over the reins to Coniglio for the 2020 season.
Coniglio’s injury-enforced absence since round three this year meant Greene stepped up to lead the team until he was also sidelined following the clash with Richmond.
Kelly revealed that he has been making mental notes while observing how that diverse group has captained the team during his eight years at the club.
“I've been learning from those four guys and the way they go about it. There are little things that each of those guys excel in as leaders, so it has definitely been a great group for myself to learn off,” Kelly said.
“I think leadership isn’t just something you have or you don't have. It's absolutely something you can work on, and something you can take from other players, other role models and mentors.
“This week is a nice opportunity to lead the club and something I'm really proud of, but I still feel like I can improve and continue taking little elements from other people.”
Kelly earned an All-Australian blazer and club champion award in 2017 when primarily playing in the midfield. He has spent plenty of time on a wing since then, and added further versatility to his game this season by playing as a high half-forward at times.
He has lined up in the midfield more in recent weeks, as shown by him attending 36 centre bounces in the past two weeks compared to only 26 in the first seven rounds.
But Kelly doesn’t expect his new status as skipper to mean he’ll return full-time to his preferred midfield position.
"I still feel my best position is a midfielder. It's always good to get back in there but I understand that my role changes week-to-week,” Kelly said.
"I have played a few different roles this year and that's just been about finding the best balance for the team, trying to optimise each player's strengths.
“Our midfielders are doing an outstanding job at the moment. I can go into the midfield and impact at times, but also go forward and help out our game style, hit the scoreboard. It’s important for me to be able to impact in numerous positions.”