Last year was a tough one for local and VFL level players, with the COVID-19 pandemic meaning players did not get to play any footy for the year.
Barlow says this did not falter Declase, who put in the work after a strong 2019 campaign to get himself to the standard where an AFL club would provide him an opportunity.
"Last year was not a wasted year but a dead year for guys like Kye who’d didn’t play any footy," Barlow told SEN’s The Sporting Capital.
"He got his life well and truly concrete last year. He had some visions of his own off the field, got a gym up and going and continued to work pretty hard off the field."
Barlow added that the year off didn't seem to affect Declase.
"He came in this year and it appeared as if he hadn’t missed too much of a beat and played some really good footy," Barlow added.
Declase, who trained with the Demons during the pre-season, has been in great form so far this season.
He has played five VFL games this year, and has averaged 22 disposals and seven marks, while kicking six goals.
Declase primarily plays on the wing, but can also flip between attack and defence, something he has been doing while at Werribee.
"He’s essentially the ‘Mr Fix-It’ for us. If we need one back, we’ll put him back. If we need one forward to take a mark and kick a goal, he’s also able to do that," Barlow said.
"He plays 90 per cent of his matches up and down the wing and runs really well and uses the footy really well."
Declase will join the league leaders immediately, and while many would find it tough to break into the side, Barlow isn't so sure for his former student.
Barlow says Melbourne have an 'intoxicating' side, and that Declase would fit in with what the Demons have.
"Kye is a really smart ball user, really composed, he does bring that running capacity and probably another rotation through the wing and half-back to assist what they’ve already got," he said.
Congratulations to Kye Declase, who was selected at pick No.15 in the AFL Mid-Season Draft.
A product of Montmorency and South Morang, Kye played 20 senior games for the Magpies from 2014 to 2019, and booted 34 goals.
He has played 46 VFL games for Northern Blues and Werribee. pic.twitter.com/boCkVgSYGc
— Northern FNL (@northernfnl) June 2, 2021
Werribee has had it share of players reach the AFL, and Barlow says they like to view themselves as a key platform in that.
"I think even from our club point of view it’s remaining a platform for players to transition from VFL footy to AFL footy, and at Werribee we’d like to think we’re a real leader in that space. Kye just adds to that," he said.
The Demons also took teenage key defender Daniel Turner in the Mid-Season Draft with their second selection.
Turner hails from Albury and the Murray Bushrangers and has impressive with his intercepting ability.
A key defender, who can take a strong grab. 🙌
— Melbourne Demons (@melbournefc) June 2, 2021