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10:19am  Oct 23, 2017

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Caleb enticed by Carlton culture

Nick Bowen for AFL.com.au  January 6, 2017 9:50 AM

Bloodlines | Giacomo to Jack Carlton youngster Jack Silvagni embarks on a journey of exploration to learn more about his great-grandfather, Giacomo.

Two days before Greater Western Sydney's 2015 best and fairest count Caleb Marchbank's father, Kevin, was involved in a serious bicycle accident.

Having left home for a 6am ride in his hometown of Benalla in north-eastern Victoria, Kevin was hit when a car turned directly into his path.

Kevin was hospitalised with several broken bones, most seriously a fractured pelvis.

Marchbank rushed home to see him in what was a difficult time for his family.

Kevin's recovery was a slow and painful one. There were hiccups along the way – he had to overcome blood clots at one stage – while, as a self-employed electrician, he also had to endure the frustration of being unable to work for some time.

Being closer to his family would ultimately sway Marchbank to seek a move home to Victoria in last year's NAB AFL Trade Period, but the 20-year-old told AFL.com.au his father's accident played no part in his decision.

"It was a big accident for Dad. He was just out early in the morning and a car was turning and didn't see him and unfortunately hit him. The driver was in his 90s and I heard the poor bloke was pretty distraught at what happened," Marchbank said.

"Dad broke his pelvis and a few other bones. I got time off to go home and see him but once I found out he was going to make a successful recovery it didn't really factor into my decision.

"The main thing is he's now all right. He's back at work and he's back on the bike, so it's really pleasing."

Marchbank Pose Image
Caleb Marchbank says he is loving life as a Blue. (Photo: AFL Photos)

Marchbank was taken by GWS at pick No.6 in the 2014 NAB AFL Draft and said the decision to leave after his initial two-year contract finished was "very tough".

The key defender played just seven senior games with the Giants, five in a promising debut season and just two in 2016, an ankle syndesmosis injury and then a dislocated right shoulder sidelining him after the opening two rounds.

Nonetheless, the Giants saw a bright future for Marchbank in their back six. With fellow key defender Joel Patfull retiring at the end of 2016, the former Murray Bushranger shaped as a potential long-term partner for Giants co-captain Phil Davis.

Marchbank also knew the Giants were extraordinarily well placed to contend for a premiership – if not multiple premierships – over the next decade after reaching a preliminary final with a talented young list.

"It played with my head a lot because the boys up at the Giants and the coaching staff were really good," Marchbank said.

"I had to factor in the potential success that they're going to have. There are no guarantees in footy but I think they thought if I worked hard enough and worked on my game that I was hopefully going to find a spot there.

"It was a difficult decision but eventually I decided I wanted to move home."

Once he informed the Giants, Marchbank had to settle on a new club. He was not short on options, with most Victorian clubs interested in him to varying degrees, but Carlton, Essendon and St Kilda had emerged over 2016 as his keenest suitors.

Three weeks ahead of October's trade period, Marchbank nominated Carlton as his preferred new club. He has no doubt he made the right decision.

"From what I saw from the outside, it seemed like Carlton had a really good culture and a really young and exciting list," Marchbank said.

Marchbank Silvagni Image
Caleb Marchbank and fellow youngster Jack Silvagni are put through their paces. (Photo: AFL Photos)

"The chance to work under 'Bolts' (coach Brendon Bolton) was something I wanted to do as well. He seemed from afar like the sort of guy who could help me improve my game.

"And since I've got here, the way he gets his messages across and the way he helps the younger boys, you can really tell that makes him a good coach."

Marchbank has made a similarly good impression with his Carlton teammates.

When Sam Docherty was asked at the club's December training camp on the Gold Coast which new Blue had most impressed him, the leadership group member did not hesitate to nominate Marchbank.

"Caleb Marchbank has been terrific, just learning the game plan and he came here in unbelievable condition for a big fella and I'm pretty excited about what he's going to do in the future for the Carlton footy club," Docherty said.

Marchbank is also excited about Carlton's future.

Asked about the prospect of playing alongside 2015's No.1 draft pick Jacob Weitering in the Blues' defence over the next decade, Marchbank says it is impossible not to be enthused. He is just as buoyant about forming long-term backline bonds with Docherty and former Giants teammate Lachie Plowman, but is also keen to learn all he can from veterans Kade Simpson, Sam Rowe and Alex Silvagni before they retire.

Marchbank's immediate focus, however, extends no further than his next training session.

"Coming to a new club I want to earn the respect of the players and the coaching staff, that's the big thing for me," he says.

"So it's just head down, back up at the moment."