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Judd the catalyst for rising star Cripps' big start to 2015

Cripps crunches in Midfielder Patrick Cripps accumulates 25 handballs, 11 tackles and a goal in the Blues' win over St Kilda
Patrick Cripps enjoyed a breakout game for Carlton in its big win over St Kilda in Wellington - ${keywords}
Patrick Cripps enjoyed a breakout game for Carlton in its big win over St Kilda in Wellington
By the end of pre-season I was a fair way ahead of where I was the year before
Patrick Cripps

A POST-season chat with Chris Judd has been the catalyst for emerging Carlton midfielder Patrick Cripps' flying start to 2015.

On Monday, Cripps was crowned the round four NAB AFL Rising Star nominee after he played a leading role in the Blues' pressure-relieving first win over St Kilda on Anzac Day.

In just his sixth career match, the 20-year-old collected 33 touches – 23 contested – laid 11 crunching tackles, kicked his first goal and, true to his nickname 'The Extractor', won eight clearances.

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But while the big-bodied on-baller has always been a stoppage specialist, it's his new-found running power that has taken his game to the next level. 

Cripps played three senior matches last year, when a broken leg hampered his progress, but a post-season review with Judd opened his eyes about how he needed to get fitter and quicker to become an AFL regular.

Taking the dual Brownlow medallist's advice on board, the native West Australian returned home to the family farm near Northampton and went to work with West Coast's former sprint coach, Mark Neitz.

"He was my footy coach when I was about 14, so I rang him up and he was good to help. He was awesome," Cripps told AFL.com.au

"In the off-season I cut back a bit on my weight – I dropped about three or four kilos – and tried to get my running power up.

"I did a bit of sprint training to try and change my body shape and get a bit quicker. 

"I dropped a fair bit off my 2km time-trial. By the end of pre-season I was a fair way ahead of where I was the year before."

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The results have been as quick to come as they have been impressive. 

In three games this year Cripps is averaging 23 disposals, six tackles and three marks and he's been one of the Blues' shining lights during a gloomy start to the year.

But the youngster, who was the No.13 pick in the 2013 draft, is determined to keep improving, with a focus on becoming more damaging. 

Standing at 193cm, Cripps is three centimetres taller than Nat Fyfe and he has studied the Fremantle superstar's ability to drift forward and impact the scoreboard.

"At the start of pre-season I put that as a focus as something I wanted to develop," Cripps said.

"You look at Fyfe taking his big clunks down forward (and) I think that's probably the next stage I can really get better at. 

"That's something, if I get the third or fourth tall defender, I can use my height to my advantage."

It's a mouthwatering thought for Blues fans, who are looking to the next generation to return the club to its glory days.

Cripps wants to help lead Carlton's rebuild, along with last year's Rising Star nominees Troy Menzel, Dylan Buckley and the recent crop of draftees, including round four debutant Blaine Boekhorst.

"We need the young boys to drive the club forward," he said.

"You're always going to get the good games from (Marc) Murphy, Judd and (Bryce) Gibbs, so it's good for us young boys to try and step up and take a bit of a load off them."

Patrick Cripps' junior club: Melville JFC in the East Fremantle DFDC league