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Give me five: Blues bag yet another nomination

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 09: Charlie Curnow of the Blues celebrates during the 2017 AFL round 16 match between the Carlton Blues and the Melbourne Demons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 09, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Charlie Curnow celebrates a goal against the Demons

LONG forgotten amid Carlton forward Charlie Curnow's breakout month was his scratchy opening fortnight to the 2017 season. 

The barrel-chested baby Blue mustered 15 disposals across the first two rounds – without a goal – then was a late withdrawal with a quad injury the following week. 

There were few obvious signs that Curnow, the No.12 pick in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, was on the verge of announcing himself as one of the AFL's brightest young stars. 

"I started this season off pretty slow, but 'Bolts' (coach Brendon Bolton) and the coaching staff were really good," Curnow told AFL.com.au

"They told me to go off and work on areas of my game and recently I've started to benefit from that. Having Levi Casboult and Matthew Wright in the forward line helping me makes it a lot easier, because they're both playing really good football." 

Take out a quiet day against Greater Western Sydney, and his averages in the other five recent games are 17.8 disposals (6.8 contested), 7.6 marks (2.4 contested), 1.4 goals and six score involvements. 

Curnow's latest effort in a losing cause against Melbourne on Sunday was, arguably, his best – and he earned due recognition as the round 16 NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.

The 20-year-old former Geelong Falcon had 19 possessions (10 contested), 10 marks (four contested), two goals and was involved in 10 of Carlton's 22 scores in the eight-point defeat. He credits improved leading patterns and decision-making for part of his rise.

Curnow is the fifth Blue to score a Rising Star nod this season, behind Caleb Marchbank, Sam Petrevski-Seton, David Cuningham and Jack Silvagni. The club had never had more than three in the award's history before 2017. 

 

"I didn’t really think about it until they ended up getting nominated and I thought, 'It wouldn’t be bad to get one'," he said. 

"It's pretty good to have five of us now. It is a pretty good sign (for the future) and it's pretty exciting at the moment, because we have a lot of young guys playing good footy. 

"There's guys who haven't had recognition in the award, like Zac Fisher, Harrison Macreadie and Tom Williamson, who are all playing good footy in the AFL side.

"It comes down to the leaders at the club. They're all doing long hours and showing us the way and sending good messages across the group."

Curnow, whose final year at under-18 level was spoiled by a knee injury, has come a long way since being arrested on draft eve for refusing a preliminary breath test.

He subsequently lost his driver's licence for two years and copped a $4000 fine. Curnow relies on public transport, a push bike or teammates, including brother Ed, to attend training and matches. 

"I learned a lot out of it and it's in the past now. It helped me make a few changes," he said. 

Where exactly Curnow settles on the field long term remains up for debate. 

His emergence as a strong-marking athlete and his 194cm stature suggest he could comfortably make it as a forward. But his running capacity may lend itself eventually to a midfield role.

There is no shortage of endurance in his genes, well beyond just sibling and noted workhorse Ed, 27.

Their sisters, Eliza, 25, and Charlotte, 28, were gifted athletes in their own right. Eliza competed at national level in middle-distance running, while Charlotte represented Australia in the modern pentathlon. 

And the other brother, George, 23, was also an ex-Falcon and "almost the most talented of all of us", according to Curnow.

"I spent a bit of time playing midfield in the pre-season and have had a bit of a run here and there," Curnow said.

"I'll see where it takes me. If they want me to play midfield, I'll play midfield. But I'm pretty happy in the forward line at the moment, so we'll see how it pans out."

NAB AFL Rising Star hub: news, nominees and past winners

How does the Rising Star Award work and who is eligible?