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Boekhorst a man in a hurry

Travis King, AFL.com.au  January 27, 2016 9:23 AM

Graham and Boekhorst fit and firing Carlton Media spoke to Nick Graham and Blaine Boekhorst after a gruelling session today.

The theme at Carlton is to reset this season and that's exactly what Blaine Boekhorst intends to do.

Few outside the Carlton faithful might have noticed Boekhorst's potential amid a difficult 2015 season, but he showed glimpses of why the Blues stumped up pick 19 in a surprise pick for the Swans Districts product in the 2014 draft.

He exceeded his own expectations and built his confidence with a strong finish to the season, that helped him walk away from the club champion awards with the best first-year player trophy.

In a round 17 bloodbath defeat to Hawthorn he plugged away for 17 touches and a goal, while two weeks later he produced arguably his best performance with 18 disposals and a major in a hard-fought loss against the Magpies.

"That Collingwood game I did a few good things and you just feel confident going into that next game and you can build on that," Boekhorst said. 

"For me it's just getting as many games together as possible and you kind of work out the team structures and how everyone plays.

"I was happy with my first year, but I've got a lot to learn. (I learnt) probably how intense the game is compared to WAFL and how switched on you need to be the whole time.

"You've always got to do something when you're not near the ball. It takes a while to get your head around."

If Boekhorst's head was spinning in his first season, he could be feeling downright dizzy by new coach Brendon Bolton's intensified learning environment.

No longer can players sit back and zone out in meetings. Instead, they are put on the spot by coaches firing questions, there to lend a hand for teammates groping for answers and sometimes sent from training with homework.

@blaine_boekhorst puts his agility to the test. #BoundByBlue

A photo posted by Carlton Football Club (@carlton_fc) on Jan 14, 2016 at 10:36pm PST

 "There are some (curly questions) in there," Boekhorst said. 

"Because there's so many different structures now you're thinking about so much else and you get sprung (in a meeting) and you're like 'I don't really know the answer'. 

"So you ask someone next to you and they help you out. It's good, everyone's supportive, so it's enjoyable. It's what an elite program should be like.

"There's a lot of learning, a lot of taking stuff home, going over the game plan and talking to coaches.

"For me individually, I'll go see a coach and he'll give me a bit of vision to watch and I'll try to figure out what he means."

Part of Boekhorst's learning has been to pick apart star Hawthorn wingman Isaac Smith's hard-running game with handy advice from Bolton – a respected assistant to Alastair Clarkson during the Hawks' premiership three-peat.

The speedy Blue concedes his endurance is not at the same level as Smith's remarkable aerobic ability, but he's improving and double hip surgery at the end of last season has freed-up his range of movement.

"It just comes down to working with the coaches on running patterns and smart running instead of wasted running," Boekhorst said. 

"(Smith's) one of the elite wingers in the comp, so especially with Bolts here now I've just been talking with him. He says that if you can work hard and you're running like he can, you can go to the next level.

"So for me it's getting to that level and then trying to work out what best suits me and what my strengths are."

Carlton's first NAB Challenge match, against Hawthorn in Launceston, is less than a month away and Boekhorst already has one eye on a berth in the season-opener against Richmond on March 24.

However, he's taking nothing for granted with 15 new faces at the club all eager to impress and old stagers keen to prove themselves to the new hierarchy.

"Everyone's trying to put their best foot forward," Boekhorst said. 

"Last year we always got questioned on our effort and intensity, so this year we'll focus a bit on that and how our mindset is.

"We'll be different. You'll see a lot more effort and intensity, so hopefully that can help us win more games."