Not long ago, Sam Petrevski-Seton was riding bulls in Halls Creek and driving eight hours to Broome to play footy every weekend.
Now, he’s Carlton’s second rising star in two weeks, and the club’s integration/development coach Andrew Walker says there is a lot more to come from the boy affectionately known as ‘Samo’ at the club.
A Blues champion himself, Walker believes Petrevski-Seton can follow in his footsteps.
“I have mentioned to him that I was the first indigenous player to reach 200 games in the history of the club since 1864 and I think he has the potential to be the second,” Walker told Aflplayers.com.au.
“I met Samo on draft day when we picked him up and went through the moment with him. The thing we liked most about him was his attack on the ball and we’re really starting to see that from him now at AFL level.”
Walker has played a key role in introducing Petrevski-Seton to Melbourne and making him feel at home, drawing on his own experiences entering the AFL system more than a decade ago.
“I know how daunting it is to move to Melbourne at 18 or 19 and to play at the elite level with all the pressures that go with AFL footy.”
The pair made a trip to Halls Creek to get to know Petrevski-Seton and his family and gained an appreciation for his journey.
“I went to do the things that he would’ve done on a day-to-day basis and bond with his family which made communicating with them now so much easier,” Walker added.
“He showed us how they cook — his family made us goanna for dinner one night and he took me to their favourite natural springs and watering holes with three carloads of his family. It showed me how incredible his journey to Carlton was.”
Walker has also made time to take Petrevski-Seton back to his roots in Echuca to escape the city life.
Coming from a country background, Walker believed the teenager would appreciate the outdoor setting.
“We’re both country boys so he has similar passions to me. I’ve been able to take him to the country and get him out of Melbourne so we can get on the river and get outdoors which we both love and getting out of Melbourne I think that really helps him when it’s time to play.”
While all draftees are excited by the beginning of their AFL journey, Petrevski-Seton has expressed his desire to remain at the Blues.
The silky-skilled midfielder has stated his love for Carlton and wants to see out his career there, which has excited the football club.
“We are thrilled that Sam wants to stick around at Carlton, I have no doubt he’ll be a superstar of the game and he is showing those attributes that will make him a champion.”
Despite being in doubt for Round 1 with a quad injury and taking no part in the pre-season competition, his work ethic, which he is becoming known for, saw him recover in time to play at the start of the 2017 season.
In a decision that surprised the footy world, Brendon Bolton picked Petrevski-Seton to debut in the season opener against the Tigers.
“We put a lot of work into getting him ready for Round 1 but ultimately it was his commitment and hard work that got him there. He was given a four-week rehab program and the commitment he showed to get himself right and to get up for a Round 1 debut was something special.
“It was just further proof of the commitment to his footy that we had seen in him in the draft process and it probably comes from his walk of life where he had to get himself to Broome and Perth to play footy.
“He learnt from a young age that if you want to get something done you’ve got to get out and do it yourself.”
Walker sees a bright future for the Round 6 Rising Star nominee to forge his own path in the game.
“I couldn’t compare him to anyone else in the league, he really is his own man. The sky is the limit for Sam, he is so dedicated and driven to be successful.
“He wants to do well for his family back in Halls Creek and to represent his town, which is just a speck on the map. He is trying to do something special.”
That dedication has shown in him being one of the few first-year players that hasn’t been rested and he’s beginning to reap the rewards.
“I had a chat to him after the Essendon game where he really slogged it out in the wet, he was telling me that the weeks were feeling shorter and recovery was becoming more difficult.
“He called me that night after the game and said that he wasn’t going to rest and he couldn’t wait to get back out on the ground the next week and he has gotten better and better every week since.
“I know he’s only played six or seven games but he’s showing all the signs of being a long-term player. He’s going to be a star.”