Tim Kelly pumped for richly-deserved state debut

Friday, June 10, 2016 - 1:12 PM by Chris Pike

VERY few players have the combined abilities to win the hard contested ball, lay crunching tackles, be a clearance machine and then break the lines, but that all sums up Tim Kelly with the young South Fremantle star to make his state debut for the WAFL on Saturday.

Kelly is one of five players from the league-leading South Fremantle picked in the final 23 for Western Australia to play in the 2016 state match against Tasmania at Steel Blue Oval on Saturday.

Of the five Bulldogs players selected, it is Kelly the only one set to make his state debut with captain Ryan Cook to play for WA for a fifth time, Ashton Hams a third and then it will be the second time for both Marlion Pickett and Ben Saunders.

But it is a richly deserved honour for the 21-year-old Kelly who has always been a player of enormous talent.

He first showed that as a colts premiership player with the Bulldogs and it was only injury that stopped him from representing WA at the National 18s Championships.

He then broke through to cement his place in the South Fremantle league side in the second half of 2013 and he has been there ever since.

Despite being just 21 still, Kelly has already amassed 60 games with the Bulldogs and is now one of the best midfielders in the competition.

He is in the middle of an outstanding 2016 season playing a big part in South Fremantle sitting on top of the ladder. Kelly is averaging 19.8 possessions a game this year and almost 24 disposals the last three games leading into the state game.

It's not just his numbers though. Kelly has the rare ability to both be outstanding in congestion in winning contested possession, but when in space he can run and carry the ball as well with his good pace.

All of that makes him a standout player and a natural to be picked to play for WA against Tasmania on Saturday.

Kelly is now excited to get the chance to represent his state for the first time. 

"It's a good feeling to be in the team. Obviously I missed out in the under-18s because I was injured so it's good to finally get a chance to represent the state," Kelly said on this week's edition of Higgo's Heroes at www.youtube.com/SFFCBulldogs.

"I'm looking forward to it now. It is definitely right up there in the things I've achieved in my career."

Kelly hasn’t changed a lot personally this year, but his form is definitely on an upward curve and that is probably a given as he matures more, gains more experience and is playing in a better team with the likes of Hams, Shane Hockey and Steven Verrier around him in the midfield.

"I haven’t done a lot different this year," he said.

"It's just always about see ball, get ball with me and that's pretty much. It's nothing real special or different, I just like to win the ball whenever I get the chance."

It has been a big past nine months for Kelly not only now being picked to represent the WAFL and to without question be on the radar of being drafted into the AFL, but he has also become a father after the arrival of his and partner Caitlin's son Tykeem.

"We had a baby boy last September," Kelly said.

"He is about eight months old now, he's a little baby boy Tykeem. He's getting big now and has two teeth coming through. Every now and then he gets a little bit cranky but he's been good and so has my partner. It's been all good."