“IT’S something I’ll look back on pretty fondly.”
A memorable first season was capped off in historical style on Friday when Sam Walsh became Carlton’s first NAB AFL Rising Star.
Joining Madison Prespakis in completing the ‘Rising Star set’ for 2019, Walsh was the clear winner as the most outstanding young player in the competition following a first-class debut campaign.
The occasion wasn’t lost on Walsh, who told media on Friday that he recognised it was a “huge honour”.
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“It’s a pretty amazing time, really, to see how proud everyone is,” Walsh said.
“There are so many moments this year that I will look back on and think ‘did that really happen?’. This is one of those moments.
“It’s something I’ve dreamt of but I probably never thought it would happen.”
It was the case of fourth time lucky for Carlton, who have had the likes of Scott Camporeale (1995) and Walsh’s mentors Marc Murphy (2006) and Patrick Cripps (2015) pipped for the award.
There was to be no denying the impressive young Blue this year, however, with Walsh just one vote shy of an unprecedented perfect score from 11 judges.
Adding the Rising Star accolade to the AFLPA Best First Year Player award he won the night prior, Walsh said he’d lap up the accolades — but attention was quickly turning to 2020.
“It’s been amazing too be able to win these award: I’ll enjoy it now, but move on pretty quickly I reckon,” he said.
“The footy world doesn’t wait for anyone and if you don’t put in the work, you won’t be rewarded.
“I have always put pressure on myself to perform. I know if I put in the work, I’ll be in a good place.”
Walsh received widespread acclaim for the way he fit in at the elite level from the moment he made his debut in front of over 80,000 fans.
The numbers say it all. #BoundByBlue— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) August 30, 2019
Crediting the win against Brisbane in Round 12 as the one where he felt like he belonged, Walsh said he “felt like we’re going places” since stepping foot into Ikon Park last November.
“The Brisbane game was one of those turning points [for me]: I realised I can really make an impact and help the Club win games,” he said.
“There were a few moments which stood out. My first win is always going to be a very memorable one, [and] playing my first game.
“Individually, it’s nice to get these accolades but it’s a great club to be a part of.”