Geelong will wait until “later this year” to begin negotiations on a new contract with star midfielder Tim Kelly, the club has revealed on its website.
Kelly returned to his home state of Western Australia for three weeks over Christmas before “another fleeting trip home at the end of January”, the club said.
Kelly weighted up an offer from West Coast at the end of last year after his first season with Geelong before deciding to stay with the Cats. Partner Caitlin Miller revealed the pair had struggled with raising their three young children in Geelong while away from the support of family members back in the west.
But the Cats said this week that Kelly, who finished equal second in Geelong’s 2018 best-and-fairest, had returned from Western Australia “ready to attack his second year”.
But forecasting the outcomes of contract negotiations with him at this stage would be “really hard”, coach Chris Scott told the league’s media arm.
“I could absolutely lay my best forecast on the table and it could be way off.
“The smartest thing to do is just to focus on what we’ve got in front of us this year.
“I’m extremely comfortable with where it’s all ended up. Where that ends in six months or nine months, it’s a bit hard to say.”
The Cats would continue helping to support Kelly and Miller with their kids, all aged under four, Scott said.
He revealed that a cousin had moved to Geelong as support for Kelly and Miller.
“There’s a lot of people who struggle to compartmentalise their life the way Tim does but, to be fair, a lot of the high-performers are able to separate the things that may be troubling them.
“Footy can be a bit of an outlet for that stuff as well. Tim loves training and he just loves footy, and would play how I suspect he did when he was a little kid.
“We run a very flexible program, from what I can gather, in comparison to some other environments out there.
“High-care players have high needs and we’ve got to be highly flexible with them. It becomes a lot easier to be flexible with players who have an exceptional work ethic.
“We’re not in a situation where we’re having to make compromises with the work Tim gets in because he just ticks every box.”
“Most people who have kids, albeit they’ve got twins plus another young one, will understand that 12 months in it’s a little easier than that first year and that’s the way it’s going for Tim.”
Scott expected to play Kelly in similar role this year after his stunning debut as a midfielder.
“We didn’t have a view that when we drafted him that Tim would be an onballer in our team and by the first game he was,” Scott said.
“If he had any inkling as to where he might play, given Steven Motlop went to Port Adelaide, then it was probably as a high forward.
“We haven’t done it that much but we’re confident he’s got the capacity to do that. There will be very few players who will be prioritised above him in the midfield mix.”