LAUNCESTON’S Rising Star hope Kade Kolodjashnij admits he is starting to feel the pinch from his first season in the big league, but is confident of finishing the year with a bang.
The 19-year-old has had an exceptional debut season across half-back for the Suns, averaging 18 touches and five marks a game, with four matches of 20 or more disposals.
Kolodjashnij leads several categories for players who are eligible for the rising star including rebound 50s (on 49 with Collingwood’s Tom Langdon), kicks per game (11.1), effective disposals per game (13.5), one percenters (71 for the year) and uncontested possessions (12.4 per game).
The number five draft pick is also high in the total kicks (177), bounces (12), rebound 50s per game (3.1) and disposals per game.
Kolodjashnij has played 16 games since his debut in round 2, with knee and hamstring niggles his only restrictions.
‘‘At the start of the year I was feeling pretty fresh but now it’s all starting to catch up to me,’’ he told Gold Coast’s website.
‘‘A couple of games left, and I’m looking forward to putting my best foot forward and hopefully the boys can have a good last couple of games.
‘‘It’s been a huge year. Recovery is very important to get yourself up every week in the AFL system.
‘‘Last year I was probably a bit slack on the recovery side of things, but this year I’ve learnt a lot. Lot more ice baths and going to the beach and all that sort of stuff.’’
Once the red-hot favourite for the Rising Star award as the competition’s best player under 21 who had played less than 10 games at the start of the season, Kolodjahsnij is now behind Western Bulldog Marcus Bontempelli and Brisbane duo Lewis Taylor and James Aish in the betting.
Kolodjashnij and his Gold Coast teammates, including fellow former Blue Jesse Lonergan, face Essendon at Etihad Stadium tomorrow afternoon, needing a win to keep their faint finals dream alive.
While it will be the first time Kolodjashnij has faced the Bombers, he has enjoyed himself at the Melbourne venue.
His career-best haul of 25 disposals came against North Melbourne at the ground in May, and he helped himself to 20 touches there against Carlton a fortnight ago.
MORE AFL, Pages 45-46