West Coast’s decision to recruit a homesick Tim Kelly on a costly, big money deal at the end of 2019 “just hasn’t worked”, according to Herald Sun journalist Jay Clark.
The Eagles coughed up picks 14, 27 and 37, as well as a future first round pick – which was used as part of the deal to get Jeremy Cameron to the Cattery – in exchange for Kelly, who had played just 48 games to that point.
But in his time at the Cats, the mature-aged recruit from South Fremantle was a runner up in Geelong’s best and fairest count in both 2018 and 2019 and a 2019 All Australian, while he also finished fifth in the Brownlow Count that same year.
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“He just doesn’t look anywhere near the player and the Brownlow Medal contender that he was at Geelong,” Clark lamented on Triple M.
“West Coast hasn’t got anywhere near the value from Tim Kelly for the big pay cheque, for what they gave up.
“He’s got the big deal, the big money and it just hasn’t worked.”
Kelly, who failed in his first bid to return to WA in 2018 after being recruited by the Cats in the 2017 Draft, finally got his wish when the Eagles stumped up an impressive draft haul to seal the deal with Geelong.
He signed a six-year deal with West Coast, worth an estimated $5 million.
Clark questioned whether Kelly could still be considered an “A-grader” given his current form after two full seasons in the west.
Fox Footy analyst Leigh Montagna admitted Kelly had failed to live up to his lofty heights at Geelong so far.
“At his best, he certainly is still an A-grader – but we certainly haven’t seen it as much as we did at Geelong,” he said on Triple M.
“His first couple of years, he’s come in, point to prove, mature age recruit, playing for a big contract… trying to impress the footy world and was desperate and played like it.
“He’s still played some good footy. Is it one of the bad trades? In hindsight, it’s easy to say yes.”
Montagna applauded West Coast’s ultimately unsuccessful bet to stay in the premiership race after the victory in 2018.
“He was there to help them win another premiership or contend for another flag,” Montagna said.
“They felt at the time they were wanting to have one more crack at a flag.
“I’m happy for a club to go all in and try to win another one. I don’t blame them, but now it’s going to set them back a little bit.”
The Eagles have failed to recruit a top 10 draft pick since Andrew Gaff was taken with pick 4 back in 2010.
Of the players drafted first for West Coast between 2011 and 2017, only two are still on the Eagles’ list.
After giving up two first round picks and two second rounders for Kelly, Montagna fears for West Coast’s list health.
“They haven’t got any early first round picks in recent seasons,” Montagna said.
“They need to start a rebuild and they’ve still got a lot of sort of senior players on that list that their best footy is behind them.”
Kelly, one of four players rushed back into the Eagles line up after injury, was one West Coast’s better players in the “embarrassing” loss to Sydney on Good Friday.
He collected 16 disposals, three clearances and four inside 50s.