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Kelly honing his craft

Jake Kelly in action for the SANFL Crows
Jake Kelly in action for the SANFL Crows
First and foremost as a defender, you've got to win your one-on-ones and I think I'm slowly getting better at that.
Jake Kelly

Rookie Jake Kelly has shown maturity beyond his years in an impressive start for the SANFL Crows this season.

The 19-year-old has been a standout in defence for Adelaide’s SANFL team.

In his first full year of senior football, Kelly has battled and often beaten experienced opponents such as dangerous North Adelaide forward Leigh Ryswyk and Sturt veteran Ben Kane. But Kelly knows he still has a lot of work ahead before he is ready to compete at AFL level.

“I thought I had a good first two weeks, but then I had a disappointing game against Glenelg,” Kelly said.

“I was looking to bounce back against Port and I think I went alright, but it was disappointing not to get the victory.”

Kelly had 19 possessions and took a match-high eight marks in Adelaide’s clash with the Magpies at Clare Oval. He spent time on a variety of opponents including Power-listed forward Jake Neade and former Essendon utility Henry Slattery.

“I’ve still got a lot to improve on. Things like my positioning, reading the play up the ground and my ball movement from defence are all areas I still need to work hard at.

“But first and foremost as a defender, you’ve got to win your one-on-ones and I think I’m slowly getting better at that.”

Kelly is part of a young defence for the SANFL Crows. Luke Thompson, 23, has been the only player with AFL experience in the back six for most of the season. Tasmanian utility Sam Siggins, dashing rookie Alex Spina and development players Matt Thompson, Michael O’Malley and Sam Pfeiffer have all held key defensive posts at different stages.

“We’ve got a very young group back there, so we don’t necessarily have the bigger bodies to go with the likes of the Port Magpies or Woodville-West Torrens,” Kelly said.

“But this week at Richmond Oval against West Adelaide will be a good chance for us. It’s a big ground and I think that will suit our running game a bit more with all our young kids in our side.”

The athletic left-footer said he has relished playing alongside experienced duo Andy Otten and Ben Rutten in recent weeks.

“I’ve never played with ‘Truck’ before, and his voice and direction is amazing,” Kelly said.

“He’s constantly telling you where to go and who to play on. Otto is exactly the same. I’ve never seen someone talk so much during a game.”

“It’s a credit to those two and it’s amazing for us young guys back there to have them in the side at the moment.”