JAKE Kolodjashnij still can't believe the direction his life has taken in the past three months.
Drafted to the Cats with pick 41 in November, the 192-centimetre, 88-kilogram defender is still pinching himself with the opportunity he has received.
``I'm getting to live my dream,'' the 18-year-old from Launceston beamed during a break from training with his new teammates.
``The main thing that has surprised me is how big they are, as well as how defensive the game is [in comparison to the State League and Mariners], which was the biggest thing I have had to learn and adapt to.
``The feedback that I have got has been good, but there are areas I need to improve, mainly the defensive side of things and the formation.
``As a first year player you get pulled out of a fair bit of stuff, so you don't get overloaded, but obviously it is still very tough. They do manage you well.''
Kolodjashnij said there was no specific feedback from coach Chris Scott and his staff about whether he was in the Cats' immediate plans for senior action, although he was hopeful of getting a match in the NAB Challenge series to give himself a taste of top-level football.
``I'm not going to put a lot of pressure on myself, and I wouldn't be completely disappointed if I didn't get game, even though it would be something I'm looking to do this year.''
His introduction to football has been joyous on a couple of fronts.
Not only is he in the AFL system, but at one of the competition's powerhouses.
``With all of these senior guys here, you can learn heaps, so I will just continue to ask questions and feed off them.
``It's still weird to be training with some of these guys, you can't help but just watch them and the way they go about things and put some of their stuff into your game.
``Before coming to the club I really liked Harry Taylor as a player, and he's someone that I've been watching and you just see how professional he is in his recovery and preparation.''
Despite the new-found distance in their lives, Kolodjashnij and his twin brother Kade, who was drafted to the Gold Coast at pick 5, still find time to talk each week.
``When we saw each other over Christmas, we compared training and all that, but we're not struggling by being apart or anything.''
Another member of his support network has been teammate Jackson Thurlow, who was drafted from Launceston 12 months earlier.
``Jacko was one of the first people I went to as I already knew him, and he gave me a quick rundown about preseason and really helped me settle in.''