Main content

Palmer: Blues in 'good hands'

Barker confident with young talent Carlton Media spoke to assistant coach John Barker as the preparations for the JLT Community Series heat up.

Carlton's young list reminds Rhys Palmer of Greater Western Sydney three years ago. 

Palmer was at GWS when it entered the AFL in 2012, having been one of the expansion club's initial uncontracted player signings, along with Phil Davis, Callan Ward and Tom Scully.

Over his five seasons in western Sydney, Palmer saw the Giants go from youthful easy-beats – they won just three games in their first two seasons – to the hardened outfit that lost last year's first preliminary final by six points to eventual premiers the Western Bulldogs.

The depth of elite talent the Giants have assembled – primarily via the draft but also via trades for experienced players such as Heath Shaw, Shane Mumford, Ryan Griffen, Brett Deledio and Steve Johnson – has seen them installed as favourites for this year's premiership.

Despite being contracted at GWS for 2017, Palmer joined Carlton in last year's trade period, keen for more regular senior opportunities after he found himself stuck in the NEAFL for much of the second half of last season before earning a recall for the preliminary final.

Palmer told he was soon impressed by the Blues' young talent when he arrived at Ikon Park late last year.

Over the past two drafts, the Blues have snared players such as Jacob Weitering, Harry McKay, Charlie Curnow, Jack Silvagni, Sam Petrevski-Seton and Zac Fisher, while they have traded for former first-round draft picks Lachie Plowman, Caleb Marchbank and Jarrod Pickett.

Watching the young Blues on the training track this summer, Palmer has seen parallels between Carlton's developing list and the Giants' early squads.

"I think the club is in a very similar situation to where the Giants were three years ago," Palmer said.

"'Bolts' (coach Brendon Bolton) came in and has worked closely with 'SOS' (list manager Stephen Silvagni) to create a list. It's a pretty young and vibrant list at the moment and there's some real talent coming through.

"I find the club is on the same track as where the Giants were a few years ago, so hopefully we can have the same progression and then in two or three years look to be around the mark in terms of premierships."

Aside from the prospect of more regular senior opportunities at Ikon Park, Palmer said Carlton was an attractive destination for several reasons.

At GWS, Palmer played under one of Alastair Clarkson's former assistant coaches, Leon Cameron, who he found an "amazing" coach. Knowing Bolton had also served an apprenticeship under Clarkson at Hawthorn, Palmer was confident the Blues were in "good hands".

Rhys Palmer is enjoying life at Carlton. (Photo: AFL Media)

Palmer also received encouraging reports from former Giants teammates who had crossed to Ikon Park previously, particularly former housemate Liam Sumner.

The opportunity to play alongside "greats of the game" Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs and Kade Simpson also appealed, as did the chance to share his experience across nine previous AFL seasons (the first four with Fremantle) with the Blues' raft of youngsters.

And while the Blues saw Palmer playing the same high half-forward/midfield role he did at GWS, Carlton's comparative lack of on-ball depth means his opportunities in the middle of the ground could be greater. 

"Carlton was a pretty easy choice in the end," Palmer said.

Nearing the end of his first pre-season at Ikon Park, the West Australian's adjustment to his third AFL club has been remarkably smooth.

"It's been a breath of fresh air for me. I've settled in really well to the Melbourne lifestyle and being at such a great club with so much history like Carlton has been great," he says.

"I've been trying to earn my stripes through the pre-season and getting to know all the boys and the coaching staff, and that's going really well.

"I'm really excited for the year ahead."