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Opinion

Sam Walsh is not too young to be Carlton’s newest leader

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Roar Rookie
18th February, 2020
10

This week, 19-year-old Sam Walsh – who is undergoing only his second pre-season in the AFL system – was elevated into the Blues’ now seven-man leadership group.

Mere hours after the announcement, many pundits had strong opinions regarding the decision.

“Let him be a young bloke,” warned former Dogs captain Bob Murphy.

“Just let him find his feet.”

Yes, Walsh is young. Yes, he may be inexperienced when it comes to leadership. But he isn’t just any other 19-year-old.

Walsh’s 2019 was unlike anything we have ever seen from a young man out of the NAB League pathway. Going at an average of 25 disposals while simultaneously not missing a game all year is no easy feat.

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It’s almost unfair to compare Walsh with his contemporaries (unless you ask Luke Darcy, who did not award Walsh with full votes during the Rising Star ceremony).

Similar talented players such as Tim Taranto, Andrew McGrath, and Andrew Brayshaw did not offer the same output as Walsh in his debut season. Realistically, one can only compare the impact the likes of Nathan Buckley, Tim Kelly, and Michael Barlow.

The latter trio were anomalies in the sense that they were passed on in their respective national drafts and picked up as 23-year-olds who were ready-made men.

Being elevated to the leadership group is not based purely on skill. By all accounts, Walsh is a professional and a solid contributor on and off the field.

The Blues are a young club, so it is feasible to suggest that Walsh was designated a leader due to the fact that he is a perfect example of what is expected among the other young players on the list – an example for others to emulate.

It sends a message to everyone that this is what is expected of you as a player, even if you are only a year deep into your development.

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Elevating Walsh into the leadership group would not have been an easy decision, and would have been meticulously analysed by Carlton’s inner sanctum.

Continued growth and success in 2020 is required from Walsh and the playing group to warrant this decision – stagnation will not be accepted by the media or the club’s supporters.

Sam Walsh will now be held to a higher standard, a standard I’m confident he can continue to surpass.