Mike & Dan with Dennis Armfield

One New Blue that caught our attention in the South African Exhibition Match had such good hands but also blonde hair that we couldn’t work out whether it was just Nick Stevens on his return from injury, a genetically modified David Teague with pace to burn or the Ghost of Dean Rice.  Whilst we got no direction from the commentators who were trying to explain the game in the simplest terms possible, and we mean simple, we did our own research and worked out that the Blonde Bullet was another West Australian recruit, Dennis Armfield.  We sought Dennis out for a chat about his upcoming year in Carlton colours…

So Dennis, tell us what sort of player you are?
Determined, a hard chaser & a big tackler. My strength is my defensive side and I am pacy. I have a 100% workrate in everything I do - on the track plus in the weights room.

So who do you model your game on?
Growing up I didn't really model my game on anyone because I played rugby. If anything I modelled myself on the smaller defensive players from the Manly Sea Eagles. But in recent times I've looked to a guy like Andrew Macleod, because he can get the ball but also what he can do with it.

Goals for 08?
I want to cement my name at the club, but not just on the field. I'd like to be well known around the club as a whole. On the field I would be happy to play 5 or so senior games.

Tell us about the last practice match at Princes Park.  Did you ever expect to see a practice match that well attended? What's the average crowd in the WAFL, anyways?
I was half expecting a big crowd, with all the anticipation for Juddy's first game. But it was still a surprise & great to get so many there. The average for a WAFL game is about 1500 - 2000

And what about the South African trip. You had an impact in your first game, but a lot of the press at the time seemed to focus on what you saw outside of the game of football…
It was a good learning experience to see how people with very different backgrounds to us live.

As a mature age rookie, were you surprised to be selected? Do you have a good draft day story that involves you being nowhere near the reports and getting a flood of SMSes?
I was surprised. I didn't actually watch the draft. I was training with my WAFL club then went to the beach afterwards because I didn't really think I had much chance. I got an SMS from a mate, & being above age I was shocked.

Thoughts on Melbourne?
I love it. Great lifestyle.

There is a lot of competition now for "smalls" at the club, with a lot of young players like Anderson, Browne, Benjamin, Grigg etc who are all battling for running defensive spots.... does that make competition fierce at training, and is that competition healthy?
I've always believed that a bit of competition is healthy. There is competition there but not in a bad way… There are no vendettas if that's what you mean! We are always happy to see each other do well.

The younger players have been doing plenty of work with Matty Lappin and David Teague. What are some of the more important things they’ve been telling you in training?
They are both very specific. In any passage of play they break things down into kicking, handballing, spoiling & so on. They can give you lots of advice from even the shortest bit of play. Lappin has been big on telling us to find a firsts player at the club & mimic what they do. I have looked to Andrew Walker but as a longer term role model, Nick Stevens. He is a great player to follow at training.

I know its early days, but who do you see as your "mates" at the club? Joining the same time as Kreuzer and Browne, do you play the experienced older brother role?
Well I live with Browney which is handy because we organise lifts to the club together. And Joe Anderson has given us a lot of advice. The newer players are good to know because the experience of being drafted is still fresh for them.

Now is your chance to get something off your chest about one of your teammates – anyone you’d like to have a go at?
Eddie Betts for coming up with the nickname "Dangles".

Mike & Dan were a bit reluctant to push any questioning on nicknames given how personal some of them can be…

With Dennis racing to get into another training session, Mike & Dan had to leave it there.  On reflection we had never really had a Blue answer ‘defensive’ and ‘hard tackler’ to the question of what type of footballer they were, generally we get a comment on being a midfielder.  Our only conclusion is that young Armfield has a tackling edge and defensive instinct from his rugby days that he is looking to hone into his hoped-for AFL career with the Carlton Football Club. We have no doubt that instincts like this will be valued by the Blues in 2008.