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Walsh's clear message

R4 | Walsh's gutsy performance Watch highlights of Sam Walsh in the round 4 match against the Gold Coast.

SOON after Sam Walsh arrived at Carlton amid much fanfare, he received some sage advice from Blues co-captain Patrick Cripps.

"Mindset is the only thing that could hold you back," Cripps told last year's first overall pick in the NAB AFL Draft.

In other words, forget about the numbers on your birth certificate – your time is now.

The message wasn't lost on the 18-year-old, who earned the round four nomination for the NAB AFL Rising Star award.

"I've always put pretty high expectations and a bit of pressure on myself to perform anyway, because I know that if I work hard there's no reason why I can't have a big impact even at this stage," Walsh told AFL.com.au on Monday.

"I just thought, 'I'll give this a red-hot crack, ask as many questions as I can and use the people around me to upskill me and give me a feel for what it's going to be like at AFL level.'

"Everyone at the club can take some credit for helping to make me feel comfortable at the level. My transition into the club wasn't too much of a challenge."

If anything, Walsh has exceeded the massive expectations to this point.

The gun midfield prospect was a bankable No.1 pick, given he averaged 32 possessions with Geelong Falcons last year in the TAC Cup and averaged 29 touches for Vic Country and was acknowledged as the best player in the NAB AFL U18 Championships, resulting in All Australian captaincy.

His all-round game, consistency, athleticism, leadership potential, maturity and professionalism had him touted as a future champion.

It seems no one at Carlton has seen a teenage draftee have such an immediate influence, initially with his ability to not only cope with a gruelling pre-season but to help lead the way in both the fitness work and the general intensity on the track.

And Walsh carried his high-level consistency through the JLT Community Series and his four AFL games to date. He is yet to produce an under-par performance.

He also doesn't seem to have an obvious weakness, given he wins his own ball, he bursts away from stoppages, he's a good decision-maker and a neat ball user. Over time he will add some muscle and size. 

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The Blues are winless after four rounds but Walsh has been a revelation. He was one of his team's best players in the shattering last-kick loss to Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on Sunday, collecting 28 possessions (13 contested), seven clearances, six tackles, a game-high seven score involvements and a goal.

Walsh also received five votes in the AFL Coaches Association award.

"I'm happy with how I've been tracking individually so far, but I've still got a lot to work on and I'm learning and growing each week from playing games and reviewing them," he said. 

"I've always loved to train the way I play, because I think it gives you your best chance to play consistent footy.

"A strength in my game is knowing the areas to work on and then trying to improve on them during the week."

He is excited by the prospect of developing a strong midfield alongside Cripps and fellow youngsters such as Paddy Dow, Sam Petrevski-Seton and Will Setterfield. 

"I think we can really grow together because we should build something pretty special if we can keep improving our chemistry and using the people around us," Walsh said.

"We're pretty young but there's no reason why we can't be really challenging teams now and winning games through driving the standards in the midfield. We've got great guidance with 'Crippa' and the line coaches and hopefully we can develop into a really strong unit to match and beat the best."