It’s second time lucky for new Melbourne recruit Kye Declase.
Having trained with the Demons earlier this year before missing out on a rookie spot, Declase shone for Werribee in the Victorian Football League.
Having made an impression, the Demons took Declase with pick 15 in last week’s mid-season rookie draft.
The 24-year-old had been enjoying his best season at the VFL, averaging 22.2 disposals including 16 kicks, 7.4 marks and almost five inside 50s, while also adding six goals across Werribee’s first five matches.
He has played 35 games across three seasons with Werribee.
Demons recruiting manager Jason Taylor said they had been able to see the development in Declase this year.
“Obviously with Kye, he came and did a little trial with us in the pre-season and we decided to not go in that direction at that very time,” he said.
“Mark ‘Choco’ Williams having coached Kye before, was not pushing him by any means, but he was strong he would improve in a full-on experience
“We’ve been able to watch him and he’s been able to produce his best football at state league level, so at 24, really starting to blossom.
“He’s a player we’ve watched over the years and showed his talent in small snippets, he’s starting to mature.”
In a video to Werribee fans, Declase thanked the club for the support and love the club has given him.
“To the playing group, it has been an incredible journey, all been amazing, not only the boys, but the whole community,” he said. “You’ve made my time there unforgettable.
“To the fans, you’re the heartbeat of the club, thank you for supporting me and showing me love through rain, hail or shine.
“To the whole Werribee family, I wouldn’t be where I am without you guys, so excited to start the next chapter at the Melbourne Football Club.”
Werribee coach Michael Barlow said he was thrilled for Declase.
He said the credit needs to go to former Werribee coach Williams who helped Declase identify his AFL potential.
“He was probably disappointed initially to miss out [earlier in the year], but he came back to Werribee and continued his good form from a couple of years ago, the AFL traits have shone through and now he gets his opportunity,” Barlow said.
“Choco in the 2019 season really opened up Kye’s observations in terms of his own abilities and traits and where he could go with it.
“He was a genuine winger for us and was ‘Mr Fixit’ essentially, if we were struggling in the front half Kye was the one we could rely on to go forward and take a mark.
“Similarly, if we needed someone to go into the backline and play behind the ball Kye was that guy, and I think that versatility has really helped with exposing him to the recruiters.
“For someone like Kye, who is fully invested and has done a lot of things right in a semi-professional environment to now be going into a full-time footy environment, it’s going to be pretty exciting to watch the next level he can go to.”
Barlow said it was good to see the club’s hard work again rewarded with players pushing into the higher level.