THIS time last year, Carlton welcomed the man who was widely regarded as the best young player in the country.
Sam Walsh proved exactly that in Navy Blue this year, becoming Carlton’s first NAB AFL Rising Star as well as winning every best first-year player award there was on offer.
Now is the perfect opportunity for Walsh to look back on his journey in becoming a Blue, with Wednesday night marking the 2019 instalment of the NAB AFL Draft.
As wide-eyed junior footballers get set to realise the draft dream, Walsh - speaking to Draft Night Countdown - recalled his big night in November last year.
While experts right around the country were predicting Walsh’s future, the man himself said that he wasn’t entirely sure he’d be coming to Ikon Park.
Dennis. Eddie. Pup.— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) November 25, 2019
Some of our very best, some of our most adored. There's plenty of value in drafts of years gone by if this 18 is anything to go by.#BoundByBlue
“Carlton didn’t let me know: they interviewed me a couple of times but never officially told me,” Walsh said.
“Looking back on it, I was happy that I didn’t know. It was something that I’ll remember forever.
“To go to the Blues was very exciting… the nerves were still pretty high on draft night.
“I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
Only 12 months out of the under-18s system, Walsh is still very familiar with a number of the players set to have their names called out over the ensuing days.
Having played and trained with them, Walsh had kept a keen eye on the draft pool this year, even while juggling the rigours of a debut season.
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As Walsh put it, it was the first time he was looking at it from a club perspective.
“I’ve always loved my AFL footy. I’ve grown up watching people I know and had a keen interest in seeing where they went,” he said.
“Now, when it involves your club, I’m pretty passionate about that side of it.”
So, with Carlton taking pick No.9 into the draft, who does Walsh want to see join him in Navy Blue?
“The recruiters keep it pretty close to their chests,” he said.
“It’s a very exciting time for the Club. Whatever they choose to do, we’ll back them.
“I know they’ll make the right call.”