BRODIE’S ticking boxes.
That’s the work from VFL coach Daniel O’Keefe, who has overseen Kemp’s delayed start to life as a Blue with the Carlton Reserves.
Kemp has now ticked off four games at VFL level for the Blues this season, having returned against Box Hill in Round 6 before having to wait another month for his next game following a delay in the season.
Lining up as a defender for O’Keefe’s side, Kemp is making strides by the week after a long 18-month wait since being drafted in November of 2019.
After completing that “first milestone” of returning to action following knee, back and ankle injuries, O’Keefe believes Kemp is doing all the right things to become a player for the future.
“He’s done an amazing amount of work with his rehab and whatnot to get back to playing his first game for the Carlton Football Club,” O’Keefe told Carlton Coaches’ Corner.
“He’s building blocks towards where he wants to get to with his footy. A big part of that is finding his feet back on-field and he’s starting to do that.
“His first game back was really strong for us and probably surprised a few with how much impact he had on the game after so much time out.
“Early days, he made me a bit nervous! The way he was moving laterally off the back of his knee injury, he’s been great.”
Kemp has slotted in to a defensive role familiar with the 20-year-old, who came onto the scene in the role with the Bendigo Pioneers in the NAB League as well as Vic Country.
While he has the scope to play in all areas of the ground, Kemp’s growth in the defensive area of the game has been evident each week.
According to O’Keefe, it comes down to a standout desire to improve on the track.
“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth [defensively], and a lot of that comes from the work he does at training,” he said.
“After every session, he’s working against bigger bodies like Levi Casboult and Harry McKay, and Liam Jones is helping him with his craft as well. We’re starting to see that come into fruition now.”
O’Keefe said that Kemp would continue to be persisted with in a defensive role in the early phase of his career, while saying he “no doubt” has the capability to be a midfielder in the future.
“We strongly believe that to apply his craft, starting his career as a footballer is going to be really beneficial for the long term as a defender,” he said.
“The games I saw him play live as a junior was as a half-backer and as an interceptor. His size allows him to do that.
“We think it’s going to set him up to succeed in the future.”