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Keeping up with the Kolodjashnijs

It’s been two months since Kade and Jake Kolodjashnij were separated. The talented twins from Tasmania – try saying that three times quickly – were sent to different states on November 21, with Gold Coast selecting Kade with pick five and Geelong taking Jake at pick 41 in the National Draft.

It’s taken some time to adjust to being apart, but both twins have settled in nicely at their respective clubs.

“I’m actually settling in really well,” Kade says.

“I thought I’d be a bit homesick to start off with but it’s been great. The host family I’m staying with has been really good to me, so I’ve settled in well and I’m loving the lifestyle.”

The 190cm rebounding defender/midfielder co-captained Tasmania’s under 18 side to victory in the division two under-18 championships last year and was one of the most athletic players in last year’s draft pool. He recorded the best running and standing vertical jump results of any youngster at the draft combine and finished in the top ten in the three-kilometre time trial.

While Kade is enjoying the sunny Gold Coast, his brother Jake – a 192cm key defender who is strong overhead and reads the play well – has found there are plenty of positives that accompany life in Geelong.

“It actually kind of reminds me of home,” Jake explains.

“It’s not as full-on as Melbourne with traffic, so that’s definitely helped me. Everything’s close so you can’t really get lost or anything so it’s pretty nice there.”

“We’ve been keeping in contact anyway, on the phone and that, but it’s nice to see him and meet some of his teammates as well” – Jake

Jake is relishing being able to learn from some of the best players in the game, many of which have won two or three premierships.

“Harry Taylor is a really experienced guy and one of the best talls in the game,” he says.

“I’ve spent a fair bit of time watching him and learning as much as I can off him, being a defender myself.”

Jake has already learned plenty of tricks from Taylor and his senior teammates, and has been working hard to adapt to a new game-plan.

“They’re pretty big on defence at Geelong, so [I’ve had to] learn new formations and things like that. Obviously I try to take it all on board and learn as quick as I can. I wouldn’t say it takes a long-time [to learn] but it’s a lot more full-on than at under-18 level. That’s probably been one of the main challenges.”

Kade has had a similar experience at the Suns, where he noticed the difference in standard as soon as he arrived.

“When you first get there it’s pretty daunting being around Gary Ablett and guys like that,” he admits.

“It’s a big step up compared to junior football – but I’m adapting to it pretty well and just trying to keep up with the best.”

While many of Jake’s teammates have already created legacies, Kade is confident the young Suns are also on the path to achieving something special.

“It’s been awesome so far. The club’s got a really good culture and the boys have been great. I’m really enjoying it.”

Like many young players, he’s hoping his debut for the Suns is only a few weeks away.

“My pre-season goals were to put on a bit of weight – probably a couple more kilos before NAB Cup – then hopefully play NAB Cup and see what happens from there.”

Jake is approaching the 2014 season with a similar outlook.

“I’ll obviously try to play as many games as possible but I’ll just take it step by step,” the young Cat says.

“I’ll keep working on my game, skills and fitness and just see what happens.”

The AFL Players’ Association’s Draft Induction Camp gave the twins a chance to catch up last week. The next time they see each other face to face may be after they’ve made their AFL debuts.

“It was good coming down to Melbourne and catching up with all the Tasmanian boys, especially my brother,” Kade says.

Jake shared the same sentiment.

“We’ve been keeping in contact anyway, on the phone and that, but it’s nice to see him and meet some of his teammates as well.”

Kolodjashnij may be a bit of a mouthful to pronounce, but it’s a name you’ll soon get used to hearing.

Geelong’s first NAB Challenge match is against Collingwood at Simonds Stadium on February 12, while Gold Coast will take on Essendon at Metricon Stadium on February 17.