Kelly ‘can’t see himself anywhere else’
Tim Kelly has given his strongest indication he could yet stay at the Cats, saying he couldn't picture himself wearing another jumper.
Back in his home state as his team prepares for Saturday's clash with Fremantle, Kelly on Wednesday fronted the media where his future was the hot topic.
The West Australian, among the favourites for the Brownlow Medal after a superb second season, could again request a trade back home to either West Coast or the Dockers.
But when quizzed on what lay ahead beyond 2019, the 25-year-old gave a glimmer of hope to Cats fans.
"This club is a great club. I love the club and right now, to be honest, I can't really see myself anywhere else."
Kelly said he felt he was in the "best place possible" ahead of his looming decision, one which his young family - which includes three young children - will play a large part.
"Ultimately it's going to come down to what's put forward, and ultimately what it means for me and my family," he said.
"The reality is I've come into the game at 23 years of age. I'm not going to have the luxury of these 15, 16, 18-year careers that some of my great teammates are having or going to have.
"I've got a short amount of time at this, and I've got to make the most of everything that comes my way."
Taken as a mature-age recruit, Kelly lauded the Cats and hoped he was repaying the faith they showed in him after selecting him with pick 24 in the 2017 national draft.
"I'm forever grateful to this footy club for giving me the opportunity," he said.
"I was someone who was starved of an opportunity overlooked for so many years.
"(to) finally get my opportunity, it's something that myself, my family, will forever be grateful for.
"In terms of owing, I think I'm doing a great job in terms of on-field performances, and I guess how I conduct myself within the community outside of footy."
"My teammates, my coaches, the staff. I love it here. It's great. (But) it's more than just me. It's going to be a tough decision and there's plenty of time for that once the season's done," he said.
"It honestly is all up in the air at the moment. I can't really predict the future and I think it would be pretty rude, with what we've got that's so good right now."
Geelong has tried to ease the burden on Kelly and partner Caitlin, the pair and their children forced to shift across the country after coming to the Cats' attention after starring with South Fremantle in the WAFL.
"Bringing my cousin over to live with us in Geelong has been life-changing for me and Caitlin," Kelly said.
"It definitely has gotten easier. It helps that the boys are getting older as well.
"As you can imagine last year the twin boys moved over when they were four weeks old.
"In a new environment, you can feel quite housebound. It was different for me - I'm living my dream.
"But for Caitlin, and for myself as well once I got home, it does sort of have that feel. But it's definitely gotten easier."
The Cats have started negotiations on a new deal but no decision will be made until after the season.
Should Kelly ask for a trade, both WA clubs will vie for his services. He said reports he wasn't willing to join Fremantle were off the mark.
"It's quite funny how that sort of all played out," he said.
"There is no problem (with Fremantle), there is no issue."
Coach Chris Scott was all praise for the former WAFL star who has taken the AFL by storm.
"He's handled himself like a true pro off the field all year, and I can't see any reason why that wouldn't continue," Scott said.
"It's a bit different over here being in Perth and with the focus of the local media.
"But if we had have seen any issues with the way he was playing we might have had to address them, but that just hasn't happened."
Scott said he wasn't privy to details of any offer to Kelly, saying his focus was on ensuring his star performed each week.
"It's not hard for me or the club at all," Scott said.
"We're really comfortable with the position that we're in. The dialogue's been fantastic, really since the day Tim came across.
"He was overlooked in four or five drafts in a row. I don't notice too much different in Tim's approach from what it was when he was just so excited to finally get his chance.
"I think he's been really clear in his approach to it all. It's obviously in the back of his mind, what's going to happen, but it's a conversation that will ramp up sort of when our season's over."
- with AAP