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Walker: Baby Blues taking 'major steps'

Danielle Balales, Carlton Media  January 20, 2017 2:53 PM

Walker savouring new role Carlton Media spoke to Development & Integration coach Andrew Walker as the boys continue their pre-season training

As pre-season training continues to intensify at Ikon Park, player-turned coach Andrew Walker has been amazed with the first-year players’ ability to adapt to the Carlton way.

After retiring last year – ending a career spanning 13 seasons and 202 games at Carlton – Walker was appointed as development and integration coach to assist the new recruits as they transition into life as AFL footballers.

“The first-years went away to Tassie and I went with them – I was just impressed with how quickly they’re picking up our game plan,” Walker said 

“It’s pretty intense, I learnt that last year when ‘Bolts’ (coach Brendon Bolton) got here for the first year – we were in a real learning phase last year.” 

Not only have they been absorbing all the right structures, but they have also been vocal on the track and in meetings, a good sign according to Walker.

“The way they are voicing their opinions, for first-year players to be able to do that I think is a major step in them being good footballers.”

As well as driving high standards in the strength and conditioning department, Walker has also been playing a vital role mentoring the Club’s new Indigenous recruits.

The Blues picked up three Indigenous players during the trade and draft period, with Jarrod Pickett being traded from GWS, Sam Petrevski-Seton arriving at Ikon Park through the national draft and Kym Lebois via the rookie draft.

With all three players hailing from completely different parts of Australia to Melbourne, Walker emphasised the importance of Carlton understanding the players’ culture and heritage.

@walkytalky1 imparts his knowledge on @jarrodpickett33 and @kym_leboisss. #BoundByBlue

A photo posted by Carlton Football Club (@carlton_fc) on

“For the Club to have an understanding of their community backgrounds really helps them out with their transition,” Walker said. 

“I feel really strongly about it, being Indigenous myself, and being able to be a mentor to them and watch them on their journey is nice.”

As Carlton’s first indigenous player to reach 200 games, Walker has instilled belief in the trio that one of them could be the second player to reach the milestone.

Although Ikon Park has been a second home for Walker for more than a decade, he’s still finding his way around his new office.

“Some days I’ve walked out of a meeting and headed towards the change rooms, so I’ve got to get used to that and remember to go to my office,” he laughed. 

The Blues take on Melbourne at Casey Fields on Saturday 25 February, marking the start of their JLT Community Series campaign.

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