Carlton had little hesitation calling Sam Walsh’s name out as the No.1 overall pick in the 2018 AFL Draft.
Walsh proved exactly why he was touted as the top player in the Draft throughout 2019, averaging 25.2 disposals per game and claiming the AFLPA’s Best First Year Player award as well as the AFL Rising Star gong.
On Wednesday night, more footballers will realise their dreams of making it onto an AFL list in the 2019 AFL Draft.
Walsh, now going into his second season with the Blues in 2020, said it was important the impending draftees take the opportunity presented to them.
“The biggest piece of advice would be don’t put any limitations on what you can do,” Walsh said on AFL.com.au’s Draft Night Countdown show.
“Don’t let your mindset hold you back, just go in with the confidence to train hard and earn the respect of your teammates and from there you will be able to learn so much off them and you will provide so much energy for the group being a young draftee.
“Definitely don’t take the opportunity lightly, you only get your first year once. You may as well give it your best crack.”
Walsh said going above and beyond what is expected of you from a preparation point of view was a must.
“For me, personally I have always wanted to train the way I wanted to play. You get rewards if you work hard and that’s definitely true, especially at AFL level,” he said.
“You are competing against guys that want it just as much as you do so you have got to find the extra one percenters that are going to work in your favour.”
Walsh pointed out that the jump in standard from under-18 football, in most cases, was immense.
“It’s obviously a very big time in your life when you are making that transition,” he said.
“You go from pretty much doing part-time football locally to professional level,”
“The step up was obviously huge in terms of training loads … you are on mentally a lot of the time when you’re at the club so it becomes very draining because you are not used to that.
“Then to finally get the chance to play AFL football, the pace and the pressure is just extreme so all the work you do on your skill level and your fitness and getting your body into shape all comes into play when you are playing the game at the highest level.”
Walsh admitted he wasn’t completely sure that he would end up in the Navy Blue strip on Draft night because Carlton’s recruiters hadn’t confirmed that they were taking him at that stage.
“I will never forget draft night and how good a feeling it was,” Walsh said.
“The lead up I was very nervous, you have a million thoughts going through your head about where I’m going to go and how I’m going to fit in and the impression you want to make.
“For me when my name was called I was just elated, you put in so much hard work from a young age for your dream of getting the opportunity at the highest level so for that to be realised is a great feeling.”