CARLTON jet Sam Walsh has been rewarded for continuing his rapid rise among the AFL ranks this season, becoming the first Blues player to ever claim the Shadforth Financial Group AFL Coaches' Association Best Young Player award for his impressive 2020 campaign.
Awarded to the best player inside the first two seasons of their AFL careers based on the weekly AFLCA Player of the Year votes, Walsh was the runaway winner ahead of Port Adelaide's Connor Rozee and the Western Bulldogs' Bailey Smith.
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Walsh, the No.1 pick from the 2018 NAB AFL Draft, enjoyed a terrific second half of the campaign and backed up a debut season where he won the NAB AFL Rising Star award to average 20.5 disposals per game.
The 20-year-old excelled on a wing, quickly becoming one of Carlton's most important players alongside his captain Patrick Cripps and All-Australian squad member Jacob Weitering.
"Sam’s effort, his work rate and the way he goes about it, he deserves this recognition," Carlton coach David Teague said.
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"He takes great pride in his own performance and making sure that it is at a high level, but he is also an exceptional teammate.
"Sam is willing to work hard for his teammates and his football club week in and week out. That is why he is held in high regard, not only within our club but by the coaches across the competition."
Geelong has recently dominated the AFLCA Best Young Player award, with mature-aged recruits Tom Stewart and Tim Kelly the last two recipients.
Other notable winners include Chris Judd (2003), Scott Pendlebury (2007), Joel Selwood (2008), Cyril Rioli (2009), Nat Fyfe (2011) and Marcus Bontempelli (2015).
AFLCA BEST YOUNG PLAYER
64 votes: Sam Walsh (Carlton)
33 votes: Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
27 votes: Bailey Smith (Western Bulldogs)