HENRY Walsh is on an hour lunch break. He woke at 6am this morning to head to the beef farm he works at full-time in Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula, and he will go back there shortly to check if any of the cows are calving.
Then Walsh will duck back home to watch Carlton play, with older brother Sam enjoying another strong season after being last year's NAB AFL Rising Star.
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Every day throws up something new for the 18-year-old, a ruckman pushing to get his own chance at this year's AFL draft.
"We've had some twin calves the last few days, so we make sure both of them are getting a drink from their mother. That takes a bit of time and patience, but it's whatever jobs pop up for the day," he said.
"It could be fencing, helping out with calving, feeding the cows. You work up a sweat."
Walsh has been working up a sweat for a while now. After leaving school last year to pursue an agriculture traineeship, he landed a full-time job at the end of 2019.
That was in the farm's busiest period, with the teenager working 80-hour weeks through his Geelong Falcons pre-season. He had planned to cut that back once games got closer, but with COVID-19 seeing the NAB League cancelled for 2020, Walsh has remained busy, regularly putting in 50 hours a week.
"We breed prized bulls and try to sell them off. They're a good dollar sometimes," he said.
"All my friends and aunties and uncles are on farms, and since I could walk I'd be on the farm or sitting on the tractor. I watched tractor videos as a kid and my passion grew. I've loved farming and being outside and working."
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He's also loved footy. His time on the farm has meant for incidental training throughout this grim season for Victorian prospects, with the 202cm Walsh adding some weight to his frame and improving his fitness. He even got in one game for Cobden before that season was shut down, too.
"Everyone's pissed off about it, but it is what it is, you can't really change anything. Everyone in Victoria is in the same boat. It would've been good to get back playing footy," he said.
"Last year I put myself in a good position to make a great couple of years in the NAB League. This year I'm disappointed I can't go out and play footy with my mates."
Walsh entered the year as one of the crop's leading ruck prospects. He played for Vic Country last season as a bottom-ager, faced New Zealand for the NAB AFL Academy and ran out on the MCG on Grand Final day as part of the NAB AFL All Stars game. In between, he showed his physicality and competitiveness in the role for the Falcons.
"I like competing in the air, but when the ball hits the ground I'm also following up and trying to get involved there. I can move around the ground. I'm really aggressive, I go for the ball as hard as I can and I get competitive real easy," he said.
The differences in the Walsh brothers aren't only in size, although after Henry trained at Carlton for a week last year he did notice a different side to his older brother.
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"He's a very serious person when he's doing something and he loves to do everything at 100 per cent. I probably learned a bit from him in how he goes along at training, how he switches on and focuses and trains his heart out for it," Henry said.
"When he was around the boys at Carlton I saw a different side to him sometimes. He actually tried to be that class clown a little bit, which I don't really see around Sam sometimes. I just sat back and smiled, I liked it."
Sam returned home to live with his family during footy's shutdown period and the pair trained together at the local oval, with father Wayne throwing the ball up for Henry to practice his hitouts and Sam to perfect his groundballs. They occasionally grapple for a strength test and have had some honest feedback for each other along the way.
"He'd tell me straight about things, which is good, and I'd do the same for him. I didn't have to do it much for him, though. Only when we were out the farm, he goes a little fast on the motorbike. It's dangerous," Henry said.
The thought of playing alongside Sam at Carlton has crossed Walsh's mind. When he trained with the Blues, Walsh asked Ed Curnow about playing in the same side as his brother Charlie.
"He said 'You fight a lot at training, but then when you're on the field you don't let anyone hurt each other'," Walsh said.
"I reckon Sam and I would be a good match up. Sam would be able to read my taps a bit better because he's grown up watching them, and I can tap it to the spots he actually really likes after being tapping it to him for a bit at home."
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And what about if he's on the opposing side?
"I'd probably have to try and line him up a couple of times if that was the case and throw my body into him," Walsh said.
"Either way it'd just be amazing."