After signing a ludicrous eight-year deal with Greater Western Sydney, the AFL has finally realised just how good a player Josh Kelly is.
AFL Fantasy has had him in the $700,000 to $800,000 for a while now, even though he has consistently achieved fantasy tons each week as a captain or vice-captain for a while. Yet apart from them, Kelly is usually overrun by better-known stars like Marcus Bontempelli, Christian Petracca or Ollie Wines, who are extremely good on a good day but sometimes get only a few disposals in surprise defeats to upset-capable teams like Hawthorn and Collingwood.
Yet it’s GWS that have really slipped into some red-hot form recently, with dominant performances over Essendon and Melbourne, and it’s been Kelly who has been the ringleader in these upsets. Principally because of Kelly, GWS now sit inside the top eight and are a real chance of playing finals football.
We shouldn’t rule him out of All Australian selection or as a Brownlow contender either.
In GWS’s thrashing of the Tigers last Friday night it was Kelly who was the star of the show, continually roving Shaun Mumford’s hit-outs time and time again and driving the ball back inside his team’s forward 50. He was having a field day with the likes of Harry Himmelberg and Jake Lloyd, running rampant over the lowly Richmond defence.
One of the big issues with Richmond this year is their inability to contest the ball out of the middle, with key players like Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin unavailable due to injuries. GWS exploited that weakness, and players like Kelly thrived on contested possessions, acquiring five on the night to equal fellow Brownlow threats Bontempelli and Petracca.
If Kelly is doing this well for the Giants, he should definitely be counted as one of the best in the game. His AFL player rating of 48 says nothing at all about how good a player he is.
If Stephen Coniglio, Toby Greene, Phil Davis and Braydon Preuss can all get fit and ready for finals footy in time, then they will go deep into the post-season. I mean, they’ve beaten all the top teams, including Melbourne and Geelong, haven’t they? And to do that without the better half of their list due to injuries or simple inconsistency is something special in itself.
For a guaranteed finals finish all they have to do is beat the lowly Carlton. Even if they do lose, West Coast will have to beat a very impressive Brisbane outfit and the Dockers will have to really do well against St Kilda.
A chance at the grand final this year? We’ll have to wait and see, but don’t count Kelly’s Giants out.