FOR every Sam Walsh that slots into the AFL seamlessly, there are plenty of young draftees who take more time to reach that level in their development.
But last year’s runaway Rising Star award winner sees no reason to raise the minimum draft age, despite growing support to do so from key figures within the game.
Current AFL rules stipulate players must be at least 18 on December 31 in the year they are drafted to be eligible for selection.
“I’m of the belief that at the age of 18 most guys are mature enough and ready to thrive at AFL level,” Carlton midfielder Walsh told reporters on Tuesday.
“I think that over the last 20 years or however long we’ve been doing the draft, that’s been shown.
“For the kids that maybe aren’t ready yet, whether it be mentally or physically, there’s still other pathways as we’ve seen.”
Premiership coaches Luke Beveridge and Damien Hardwick have urged the AFL to raise the draft age in order to separate young players’ year of football judgement from their final school year.
“For me personally, when I was in my draft year at the age of 18, the balance of school and footy gave me great structure,” Walsh said.
“I feel if you push that age back then a lot of people would lose their way.
“Even if you didn’t want to go to uni and you wanted to get a trade, I don’t think too many people are going to be putting you on as a one-year apprentice knowing you’re going to get drafted the next year.
“There’s a lot of things that have been discussed about it but I think the way that it is at the moment really helps kids get the best out of themselves and I think the clubs are all for it as well.”
Walsh was the No.1 draft pick in 2018 and played every game for Carlton in his record-breaking debut season, averaging more than 25 disposals.
The 19-year-old was named in the Blues’ leadership group ahead of his second season and has been relishing the role in difficult circumstances during the coronavirus shutdown.
“I am very young and I’ve got a lot to learn, and I’m aware of that, but that’s why the leadership group and everyone around me has been very supportive,” Walsh said.
“I’ve got a lot to learn but I also feel that I’ve got a lot to give, especially to the younger boys that are coming into the club.”
(C) AAP 2020