LIAM Stocker couldn’t wait to get back through the doors of Ikon Park last week.
The second-year Blue is eager to prove himself ahead of the 2020 season after what was an injury-interrupted debut year.
The 19-year-old expressed his excitement to get back into the weekly training routine when speaking to Andy Maher and Bob Murphy on SEN Drive on Friday.
“First of all, I was really excited to get back because I’ve never been away from my teammates for that long: 10-12 weeks is ages not to have seen all boys,” Stocker said.
“The optimism we had in the second half of the season… unfortunately I missed all of that due to injury and then playing VFL, but I was really craving getting back to that AFL team and I never got to.
“It’s sort of been a really long wait for me to get back into that environment where we’re all training together and we’re all working towards the same goal. At the moment, we’re taking it session-by-session and trying to improve like that.”
Putting pen to paper on a contract extension that will see him in Navy Blue until at least the end of 2022, Stocker believes he still has plenty more to show.
Playing five senior games in his debut year, the youngster is hoping a consistent pre-season and elite mindset will earn him a regular place in the AFL line-up.
“I think the biggest lesson I took away was that everyone has relatively similar ability,” he said.
“There are a couple of guys in the league that might be five per cent fitter or stronger but the thing that sets you apart is your mindset.
“I think in my AFL games, I was in a pretty good frame of mind but otherwise some games I’d let it slip and I think that’s what makes the best players the best.
“Guys go out there because they’re hungry and because they want their team to win and I think sometimes I probably lost that aspect and focused more internal.”
Now in his second year, Stocker is eager to play alongside some of Carlton’s newest recruits, with Eddie Betts a standout in that group.
Speaking on the returning veteran, Stocker believes the leadership Betts will bring to the young group will prove invaluable.
“I think just the experience, having been at the Club in successful years and then at another successful club in Adelaide, you can never have too many of those guys around the Club,” he said.
“I think we’ve got plenty that do it already, but because our group is so young and the age demographic is so young I think there are a lot of boys at the Club who will develop into that in time.
“It’s probably really good to have an example like Eddie.”