There aren’t many players in the VFL averaging 35 disposals, six marks, five tackles and a goal a game.

Will Hayes is, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The 26-year-old’s start to life at Carlton couldn’t have gone much better. He is in scintillating form and the Blues have only dropped one game from their opening six matches.

Hayes - speaking on 3WBC’s VFL Rewind - said that as soon as he walked through the doors at Carlton, he was impressed.

“My first impressions of the club when I got there were really good,” Hayes said.

“They’ve got a great foundation and an incredibly professional setup in the VFL, so to me it’s no surprise we’re going so good.

“It’s good timing that I’ve rocked up when I have.”

Outside of football Hayes works at Flemington Racecourse, often in the early hours of the morning.

He said the balance between horse racing and football is a difficult one.

“The industries probably don’t match hand in hand, with horse racing being so early in the morning and then VFL training is at night: I’m spending my whole life chasing sleep at the minute,” he said.

“We get one day off every 14 and that’s just an industry standard. So I’m off and working the morning of games… it’s a tough industry.”

02:11 Mins
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Carlton Coaches' Corner | Dom Akuei

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Despite his busy off-field life, the former Bulldog still managed to amass 100 VFL games earlier in the season: a career that has produced two premierships while playing for Footscray as well as a best and fairest in 2018.

On current form, Hayes would be in contention for the same award for the VFL Blues this year, but he believes his fast start to the season is thanks to VFL Senior Coach Daniel O’Keefe as well as his teammates.

“I’ve been very fortunate this year at Carlton with Dan O’Keefe, he’s thrown a lot of support behind me and put me in positions like inside mid where there’s a lot of opportunity for me to use my work rate and just hit the contest,” he says.

“It’s pretty easy when you’re surrounded by as many good players as I am as well.”

One of those players Hayes is happy to have alongside him is mercurial small forward Jesse Motlop, who has also made a bright start to his career in Navy Blue at VFL level.

Hayes is particularly pleased with Motlop’s team-first mentality.

“He’s a great player to play with because not only does he do the flashy things, he also does the team thing. So I think the way he’s going, he can’t be too far from an AFL debut,” he says.

While Hayes might not have as much raw talent as someone like Jesse Motlop, he certainly has the work rate and heart of a formidable footballer.

Tarquin Oakley is a student at La Trobe University, undergoing his Bachelor of Media and Communications (Sports Journalism). He is currently undertaking an internship at the Carlton Football Club as part of its partnership with La Trobe University.