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For Kristian, Carlton is Kansas

Kristian Jaksch has played seven AFL games. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)
Kristian Jaksch has played seven AFL games. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)
There were other suiters, but it was always Carlton.
Kristian Jaksch

First thing’s first. Kristian Jaksch’s surname is phonetically pronounced “YARKSH”, not “JACKS”. He makes no big deal of it, but as was the case with Nick Riewoldt, who righted the wrong with “REEVOLT” over “REEWOLT”, all power to him in setting the record straight.

It’s also worth noting that Kristian is a second generation Australian of Austrian descent. His paternal grandparents were migrants who hailed from Steyr, about 130 kilometres north-west of Salzburg where the great Alex Jesaulenko was born, and it’s perhaps by way of Jaksch’s grandfather Walter, an Austrian Amateur middleweight boxing champion, from whom he has acquired his sporting pedigree.

And yes, the self-assured eastern suburbs boy has even completed the pilgrimage to Steyr. He was there for a family reunion five years ago and still boasts kindred connections in the place. It’s why he can also hold a conversation in German as a one-time student of the language.

Originally taken by Greater Western Sydney from Oakleigh Chargers in the 2012 National Draft, the former Carey Grammarian is truly grateful that Carlton offers a new start so close to his parents’ place in leafy Hawthorn and not far from his girlfriend’s abode in Highett.

Kristian Jaksch's grandfather, Walter (left), was an Austrian Amateur middleweight boxing champion in the late 1950s. (Photo: Jaksch family)

“After being drafted to GWS I had to relocate from Hawthorn to Sydney and it probably took me around six months to settle in there after the excitement of getting drafted began to wear off,” Jaksch said.

“Now I’ve done the reversal, but I feel like I’m really settled back home and there’s no chance of me leaving again. It’s a bit of a weight off my shoulders to know that my future’s secure, at least in the short-term.”

For the self-proclaimed football swingman who played most of his junior footy as a forward, Carlton was always the preferred option.

“I’d always expressed Carlton as my priority. It’s a big club with a great history, it was close to home and as a priority there was a place on the list for a player like me . . . ” Jaksch said.

“There were other suiters, but it was always Carlton.”

Jaksch bears no ill will to the Giants and is forever grateful they gave him his start. But to quote Dorothy on returning to Kansas, “there’s no place like home” and so it is for Jaksch here.

“For me, being balanced is a big part of my life, and having outlets outside of my footy is really important to me,” he said.

“I’ve only been here for two days, but I just feel so fresh, in being able to complete training after a hard day and check out from a football environment for at least a couple of hours, which is really nice.”

Pleasing David Parkin no end is the news that Jaksch also intends to pursue his Bachelor of Commerce studies first undertaken at Sydney’s Macquarie University because Jaksch, at 20, still appreciates that nothing’s forever, least of all footy.

Clearly, Jaksch is in a good place and that’s got to be good for Carlton.

“I feel that I’m rolling into the footy club fresh and full of energy every morning,” he said. “I know that when I’m here I’m here to work and that when I roll out I have my own time. It’s all about balance.

Jaksch in his new colours. (Photo: Carlton Football Club)

Jaksch is mindful that amongst Carey Grammar’s notable alumni is one JD Elliott, the former Carlton President and that his Carey contemporaries Jason Ashby, Nathan Hrovat, Jackson Macrae and Jack Viney are all in the League system.

For Jaksch, old schoolmates form part of that vital network he so values as he pursues his own career as an AFL footballer with all the hopes and dreams that go with it.

At the same time, he’s keeping a level head in terms of 2015 and beyond.

“I’m not thinking too far into the future,” said Jaksch. “For now my focus is firmly on the pre-season.

“There’s only 10-12 of us young guys here at the moment, but I’m really keen to make a great impression when the older, senior players get back,” he said.

“Right now I just want to make sure that my body’s right, that I can do all the sessions and put myself in the forefront of the coach’s mind when it comes to Round 1.”