Kolodjashnij ready to test himself against the best

kadekolo8Kade Kolodjashnij is pinching himself that he gets to run out alongside Gary Ablett in his AFL debut on Saturday for Gold Coast.

The 18-year-old Tasmanian was drafted by the Suns with pick no. 5 in last year’s NAB AFL draft and will make his debut against Fremantle following a stunning performance in the NEAFL last weekend.

“It’s unbelievable,” Kolodjashnij said.

“Twelve months ago I wouldn’t have believed I would be playing with Gary Ablett.”

Kolodjashnij says he had not gleaned any advice from Ablett verbally during his first trip to Perth. However, the teenager had learned something from the two-time Brownlow medallist already.

“Just how competitive he is,” Kolodjashnij said.

“I was playing table tennis with him yesterday and he hates losing.”

Kolodjashnij, and his twin brother Jake, who is on Geelong’s list, were latecomers to AFL football. Their father came from Ukraine and both boys pursued soccer as youngsters.

“I used to play a lot of soccer and basketball when I was younger,” Kolodjashnij said.

“I started footy when I was about 13 years old, so I started pretty late, and just loved the game since then and gave up soccer and basketball for footy.”

One of Kolodjashnij’s school friends introduced him to footy and he never looked back.

He supported Hawthorn growing up in Launceston and was barracking for them against the Dockers during last year’s Grand Final, but now gets his chance to test himself against a competition heavyweight.

“I’m just really looking forward to it, seeing where I stand with the best team in the comp,” Kolodjashnij said.

Guy McKenna says Kolodjashnij’s performance in the NEAFL last week had taken on a life of its own and forced the match committee to select him.

“It’s almost as big as (Malcolm Blight’s) long kick at Princes Park,” McKenna said.

“So it was strong enough to get him a spot in the side to play Fremantle this week.
“He’s one of our better runners already in his first pre-season. He knows how to use the ball by foot and by hand. He’s very creative.”