Kolodjashnij ready to face heroes at home

AS A Hawthorn-mad youngster growing up at Prospect, Kade Kolodjashnij loved nothing more than worshipping his brown and gold heroes in action at Aurora Stadium.

However, the shoe will definitely be on the other foot for the 18-year-old this weekend, when he returns to his home state as one of the competition's best young players, hoping to help the Gary Ablett-led Gold Coast dismantle the Hawks and end their nine-game winning streak in Launceston.

``I'm really looking forward to getting back to my home turf as such and playing in front of family and friends,'' the round 10 Rising Star nominee told  The Examiner  yesterday.

``I always used to go and watch Hawthorn play down there at Aurora, and it has always been a dream to play AFL footy on Aurora and to be able to do that this weekend will be unbelievable.''

One of those heroes he was barracking for is the man he has been compared with since dominating the under-18 carnival last year as a Tassie Mariner, Grant Birchall.

Both are running defenders and have the reputation of delivering precise disposal off their trusty left feet.

Kolodjashnij, a Launceston Football Club product, is happy to admit Birchall is the player he would like to develop into. 

``I used to watch him a fair bit when I was back home, and as we play the same sort of position, I just love the way he takes it and runs off half-back and I model my game on that.

``He also defends so well and he's got a great balance between his offensive and defensive game, and I just try to implement that in my game as well.

``He's had a great career, won two premierships, been All-Australian and if I could go the same path as him in the future it would be great.''

Kolodjashnij, the fifth selection in last year's national draft, has made a promising start to his AFL life, averaging 19 disposals a game from his 11 outings, but the cool, calm customer is not getting ahead of himself.

``I've got these areas to work on, but every game I play I get more confidence and I start to back my ability a bit more, but every game I need to work on little things to become the best defender that I can be, like being right on your man, your running, spoiling and all that sort of stuff.

``So my main focus is the defensive side of my game.''

 Kolodjashnij, whose brother Jake is on Geelong's list, lined up against the Hawks in round 4 in the Suns' 99-point loss, when he collected 17 disposals.

Since that game, the Suns have gone 6-3 to sit in eighth spot with an 8-5 record, while the Hawks have defied their injuries to sit second on the ladder with a 10-3 win-loss ratio.

``We'll just have to back ourselves this week, as last time we went into our shells a little bit and just go at them 100 per cent.

``I had an OK game last time, and I'll be looking to improve on that performance.''

There will be plenty of Kolodjashnij supporters in the crowd, with parents, Sharon and Paul, among a group of about 20 family members, with a contingent of Kolodjashnij's friends from St Patrick's College set to be supporting their mate.

Kade Kolodjashnij

Kade Kolodjashnij

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