Fitting in with West Coast’s well-rounded engine room is gun recruit Tim Kelly’s priority as he adjusts to his new teammates this pre-season.
Kelly has hit the ground running this summer, returning to training with the Eagles’ first- to fourth-year players despite finishing his 2019 season with Geelong at the preliminary final stage – a week after helping the Cats snuff out West Coast’s finals campaign.
The 25-year-old is settling back into the Perth lifestyle and building chemistry with the likes of spring-heeled ruckman Nic Naitanui, new skipper Luke Shuey, Elliot Yeo, Jack Redden, Andrew Gaff and Dom Sheed.
“I feel like I’m coming into another very strong midfield and like Geelong, like the midfield I’ve been involved with the last two years, we’ve got some guys who are unique and bring their own strengths and different things to the table,” Kelly said from Dunsborough Primary School during the club’s AFL Community Camp in Western Australia's South West.
“It’s not all about me. I’m coming in trying to fit in with this group and try to make it better.
“Hopefully our chemistry evolves over the next couple of months at training and we’re ready to go come round one.
“I’m pretty keen to see myself and Nic and the other mids’ chemistry evolve and gel over the next couple of months.”
Kelly grew up a “massive” West Coast fan and is already looking forward to lining up in his first RAC Derby against Fremantle.
His namesake, Grace Kelly, is also eagerly anticipating her debut in blue and gold after joining sister Niamh in swapping the Gaelic ball for the Sherrin.
The Irish recruits arrived in WA six weeks ago and have jumped into the new sport with gusto.
“One of our first training sessions I got belted straight away and I was like ‘woah, this is crazy, I don’t know if this sport is for me’, but you get into it really quickly,” Grace Kelly said.
“The girls tell you as you go along how to get smarter in the tackle, and I think my speed helps me there as well. Try to get out in front first and accelerate and win the ball.
“(Adapting to AFLW) has been a good challenge, actually. Skills are transferrable as well, so what’s similar is the bouncing and the running, and the pitch is a little bit bigger and the physicality of the game.
“The main difference would be the oval ball, but in terms of endurance and speed and how you play the game it’s quite similar.
“We’re enjoying it so far and learning the skills as we go along.”
An AFLW contingent – including players Dana Hooker, Kate Orme, Sophie McDonald and fowards coach Michelle Cowan - ventured to the South West to help inspire the next generation of female footballers, visiting primary schools and holding a clinic for the local youth girls' talent squad.
West Coast’s men’s side has also been getting out amongst the community, when they haven’t been put through their paces in their final week on the track before the Christmas break.
“It’s been nice work by the club to organise this trip,” Tim Kelly said.
“It’s been jam-packed with our training – that’s really important – and reaching out to the communities and getting out to primary schools.
“I know the boys enjoyed reaching out to the schools that we did on the way down and so far it’s been pretty good.”