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Joanna Guelas

Kelly to play 200th Giants game against childhood club

Josh Kelly will bring up 200 games for the Giants when they face North Melbourne on Saturday. (Jonathan Di Maggio/AAP PHOTOS)

A loyal one-club servant, Greater Western Sydney star Josh Kelly is set to reach his 200-game milestone against a side that have twice tried to poach him.

Fresh from thumping Collingwood in opening round, the Giants welcome North Melbourne to Sydney on Saturday - with vice-captain Kelly looking forward to a homecoming of sorts.

Kelly's connection with the Kangaroos began with his father Phil, who played 61 games in the royal blue and white in the 1980s.

Old photos show a young Josh Kelly - missing his front teeth - wearing an oversized North guernsey as he poses with former stars of the game including Brent 'Boomer' Harvey.

Kelly had the chance to follow in his father's footsteps when North Melbourne came knocking on his door in 2017 and 2021, but each time he opted to remain a Giant.

The 29-year-old says he's orange through and through now - and when his dad makes the trip to Engie Stadium, he'll be in the Giants' colours too.

Josh Kelly.
Josh Kelly is "orange through and through" despite his early Kangaroos connections. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

"He's definitely Giants now - he's confidently Giants. The whole family will have their orange scarves on," Kelly said on Thursday.

"There are those moments where it does feel a bit 'full circle' in that sense and you are able to reflect and look back and put yourself in the position when you were just a young kid.

"There's a connection for myself there, but it's still four points."

A crucial cog in the Giants machine, Kelly was recruited with pick two in the 2013 draft before making his debut for GWS in 2014.

The silky-smooth midfielder took his game to another level in 2017, earning an All-Australian nod and taking home his first club best-and-fairest award.

He was made co-captain alongside Toby Greene and Stephen Coniglio in 2022 before being named vice-captain in 2023, with Greene the sole skipper.

"It definitely sneaks up a little bit. Footy seasons just roll on and on, and then all of a sudden - 200 games does feel a bit surreal," Kelly said.

"In the moment, it just feels like another footy game but there's no doubt I will look back on it fondly."

Kelly is now a Giant for life after signing a contract through to the end of 2029, but there was a time when his future in Sydney wasn't so concrete.

After the player turned down a nine-year $9 million deal with the Kangaroos in 2017, North pursued him again four years later.

Despite the temptation he elected to devote his entire career to GWS.

"It's not something I've needed to justify or vindicate," Kelly said.

"It was a time when I was just considering options and I was never one way or the other.

"There was always a pull there (with North Melbourne) but at the end of the day, I always felt a real connection with (the Giants).

"I've always felt success is around the corner for us as well.

"We're in a pretty special position to be competing for premierships ... and it's definitely not something I'll take for granted."

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