Newly minted Carlton vice-captain Sam Walsh says there is “nowhere he’d rather be” than at Ikon Park as his fourth pre-season comes to an end.
The 21-year old has this morning put pen to paper on a new four-year contract extension, tying him to Princes Park until the end of 2026.
The midfielder has gone from strength to strength since the beginning of his AFL career. Since arriving at Carlton with pick 1 in the 2018 national draft, Walsh has not missed a senior AFL game and has increased his output every single year.
He cemented himself as one of the elite players in the competition in 2021, averaging 29.8 disposals, 4.5 tackles, and 4.8 clearances, earning his first All-Australian selection, finished third in the Brownlow Medal voting, and capped off with his first John Nicholls medal at Carlton.
Speaking to the media at Princes Park, Walsh said he was delighted to be able to sign on at the club that has helped him so much in the formative stages of his career.
“It’s an exciting time for me and the family and the club. I’m really stoked to be able to commit” Walsh said.
“Ever since I’ve gotten to the club this is where I’ve wanted to be. Hopefully, we can continue with some success.
“I wanted to commit to this club. They’ve done alot to help me so I wanted to return the favour.
“We’re here with a great group at the moment and really enjoying it so I thought it was a no-brainer”
The deal takes Walsh to his first free agency marker as an unrestricted free agent. Being a contract year for Walsh, he said the speculation around his future and lure of free agency down the line had no bearing on his decision to sign on at Carlton. Saying that he always wanted to commit and focus on training and playing football.
“There always is little murmurings that you hear and they’re probably things now that settle down because I have committed,” Walsh acknowledged.
“I always wanted to commit so I didn’t think there was any reason in holding off on that.
“My main focus has been on the footy and that’s where I’m going to put pressure on myself to perform. The other stuff doesn’t really impact me too much to be honest.”
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While Walsh has excelled on the field, the opening three years of his career have been filled with speedbumps off the field. Entering season 2022, Walsh will be under his third senior coach at AFL level with former Brisbane Lions superstar Michael Voss ascending to the role.
A Brisbane Lions supporter as a kid, Walsh said he has loved learning from one of his childhood heroes and being coached by one of the greats of the game, along with the brand new coaching staff bringing a new dimension to Carlton in 2022.
“He’s got a very strong presence,” he said about Voss.
“He’s got a great presence and he is a great leader. He is also surrounded by alot of good assistant coaches.
“We feel as a group we are buying in, which is what you need and those guys are there to help us do that and set us on the right path.”
On a personal level, After already achieving so much in his first three seasons, Walsh has set his sights on getting even better as he heads into his fourth season. He plans to take his contested ball game to a new level.
“That’s the beauty of football – you’re always looking to work on something. I want to keep taking my contested game to another level — you look at all the mids that impact, that’s where it sort of starts” he said
“I think we’re developing a strong midfield group at the moment that can work together so that’s another focus, to build the chemistry as a team and work on things together. I feel like if you’re able to do that, you can stand up in games and really earn the respect of the opposition”
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