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Boekhorst to let footy do the talking following 2014 Twitter gaffe

Travis King  January 27, 2016 8:00 AM

AFL 2015 Training - Carlton 251115

Blaine Boekhorst has moved on from infamous tweet

I'll let my footy do the talking, so (people) can forget about that and see me as a footballer

THE THEME at Carlton is to reset this season and that's exactly what Blaine Boekhorst intends to do.

Boekhorst's name invokes a consistent response in football circles - relating to the now infamous tweet he sent blasting former coach Mick Malthouse and the Blues before he was drafted.

The spotlight has rarely shone on an AFL newbie quite like it did on Boekhorst upon his arrival at Ikon Park back in November 2014, and the mature-age recruit's social media outburst made for some awkward first meetings at the club.

But with the slate wiped clean under rookie coach Brendon Bolton, the 22-year-old says bygones are bygones and this season he's determined to set more tongues wagging – and other people's thumbs tweeting – with his on-field exploits.

"For me, that's forgotten now," Boekhorst told AFL.com.au of his pre-Carlton tweet. "I don't worry about it at all.

"I'll let my footy do the talking, so (people) can forget about that and see me as a footballer."

Few outside the Carlton faithful might have noticed Boekhorst's potential amid the carnage last season, but he showed glimpses of why the Blues stumped up pick 19 in a surprise pick for the Swans Districts product in the 2014 draft.

He managed 11 games for the wooden-spooners, exceeding his own expectations, and built his confidence with a strong finish to the season that helped him walk away from the club champion awards with the best first-year player trophy.

In a round 17 bloodbath defeat to Hawthorn he plugged away for 17 touches and a goal, while two weeks later he produced arguably his best performance with 18 disposals and a major in a hard-fought loss against the Magpies.

"That Collingwood game I did a few good things and you just feel confident going into that next game and you can build on that," Boekhorst said.

"For me it's just getting as many games together as possible and you kind of work out the team structures and how everyone plays.

"I was happy with my first year, but I've got a lot to learn. (I learnt) probably how intense the game is compared to WAFL and how switched on you need to be the whole time.

"You've always got to do something when you're not near the ball. It takes a while to get your head around."

If Boekhorst's head was spinning in his first season, he could be feeling downright dizzy by new coach Brendon Bolton's intensified learning environment.

No longer can players sit back and zone out in meetings. Instead, they are put on the spot by coaches firing questions, there to lend a hand for teammates groping for answers and sometimes sent from training with homework.

"There are some (curly questions) in there," Boekhorst said.

"Because there's so many different structures now you're thinking about so much else and you get sprung (in a meeting) and you're like 'I don't really know the answer'.

"So you ask someone next to you and they help you out. It's good, everyone's supportive, so it's enjoyable. It's what an elite program should be like.

"There's a lot of learning, a lot of taking stuff home, going over the gameplan and talking to coaches.

"For me individually, I'll go see a coach and he'll give me a bit of vision to watch and I'll try to figure out what he means."

Blaine Boekhorst working hard at training. Picture: AFL Media

Part of Boekhorst's learning has been to pick apart star Hawthorn wingman Isaac Smith's hard-running game with handy advice from Bolton – a respected assistant to Alastair Clarkson during the Hawks' premiership three-peat.

The speedy Blue concedes his endurance is not at the same level as Smith's remarkable aerobic ability, but he's improving and double hip surgery at the end of last season has freed-up his range of movement.

"It just comes down to working with the coaches on running patterns and smart running instead of wasted running," Boekhorst said.

"(Smith's) one of the elite wingers in the comp, so especially with Bolts here now I've just been talking with him. He says that if you can work hard and you're running like he can, you can go to the next level.

"So for me it's getting to that level and then trying to work out what best suits me and what my strengths are."

Carlton's first NAB Challenge match, against Hawthorn in Launceston, is less than a month away and Boekhorst already has one eye on a berth in the season-opener against Richmond on March 24.

However, he's taking nothing for granted with 15 new faces at the club all eager to impress and old stagers keen to prove themselves to the new hierarchy.

"Everyone's trying to put their best foot forward," Boekhorst said.

"Last year we always got questioned on our effort and intensity, so this year we'll focus a bit on that and how our mindset is.

"We'll be different. You'll see a lot more effort and intensity, so hopefully that can help us win more games."