LAUNCESTON'S Kade Kolodjashnij has exceeded his own expectations by making his AFL debut as early as round 2.
Tasmania's top pick at No. 5 in last year's national draft, was last night named in the Gold Coast team to face the daunting task of last year's grand finalist Fremantle at Patersons Stadium.
Earlier this month, the 18-year-old told The Examiner that after discussions with coach Guy McKenna, his first crack at the big time would not come until round 4 or 5.
This would be after spending a few weeks with the Suns' NEAFL team, after a preseason disrupted by hamstring tightness.
But strong performances for the Suns' reserves against Aspley and Southport (where he collected 45 possessions) have seen the running defender, who plays very much in the Grant Birchall-style, receive an early call-up.
McKenna confirmed the decision midweek, with skipper Gary Ablett handing Kolodjashnij his No.28 jumper in a dressing-room presentation.
``I suppose it gave me some confidence playing some good games in the NEAFL,'' Kolodjashnij said on Gold Coast's website.
``It's really helped me a lot just experiencing playing with senior bodies and getting some match fitness under the belt, so it has been really good playing reserves, so I'm really looking forward to playing AFL footy now.
``There's a couple of young blokes there (in the team) as well, including me.
``I reckon we've just got to learn off the older blokes.
``We'll just try to feed off them and play good footy.
``Its a long flight over to Fremantle, so its going to be good to get a taste of AFL footy against one of the best teams in the comp.''
Kolodjashnij's parents Paul and Sharon, sister and grandparents would all fly over to Perth today.
He will become the 13th player from the Launceston Football Club to be drafted and play in the AFL since 1973, and is one of six on AFL lists with his twin brother Jake at Geelong (drafted at pick 41 last year), Thomas Bellchambers (Essendon), Tim Mohr (Greater Western Sydney), Jesse Lonergan (Gold Coast) and Jackson Thurlow (Geelong).
Launceston yesterday released a statement wishing Kolodjashnij all the best for his AFL debut.