SURPRISED by his good form, emerging Carlton midfielder Patrick Cripps has already exceeded his own expectations this season.
The 20-year-old was the Blues' best player in the four-point win over Port Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday, amassing a career-high 31 disposals.
But it was his work at the stoppages - where he amassed nine clearances, second only to skipper Marc Murphy - along with a career-best 12 tackles that showed again why he's quickly earned the nickname 'The Extractor'.
After playing just three games in his debut season last year, Cripps has played nine so far in 2015 and looks the player most likely to fill the gaping void at the clearances left by recently retired champion Chris Judd.
Drafted in 2013 at pick No.13, the big-bodied midfielder is averaging 23 disposals and five tackles per game this season, and he admits his impressive form has taken him by surprise.
"To be honest I didn't really expect to play like this," Cripps told AFL.com.au.
"At the start of the year I just wanted to get a spot in the side. My goal was to play 10 games this season and already I've played nine.
"In the off-season I went away and tried to get fitter and quicker and it's paid off."
While Cripps' dominant display was built on his work inside the contest, his use of handball as an attacking weapon was another feature.
It was on display with a brilliant no-look handball over his head that set up Tom Bell for a thrilling running goal in the second term, and again when he sent a long-range bandpass to Bell in the fourth term that ended in a major to Troy Menzel and put the Blues 29 points ahead.
Cripps is among the top chances for this year's NAB AFL Rising Star award and his performance against Port will cement his favouritism with 11 games still to play.
Interim coach John Barker was full of praise for the West Australian describing his efforts against the Power as "enormous".
"He's a quality young person and is giving us some real impact inside. He is really shining now that he's getting a lot more time inside and he's getting the lion’s share of the centre square bounce time."