Sam Walsh believes young players may be lost to their game if the AFL raises the minimum age. (AAP: Julian Smith)
Carlton midfielder Sam Walsh has urged the AFL to resist calls to lift the minimum draft age from 18, saying most teenagers are ready to make the step up to the senior level.
- Sam Walsh feels young players are mature enough to be drafted under the current rules
- Walsh says some prospective draftees may be lost to the game if the minimum age is raised
- Damien Hardwick and Luke Beveridge want the AFL to consider changing the minimum draft age
Current AFL rules stipulate players must be at least 18 on December 31 in the year they are drafted to be eligible for selection.
Premiership coaches Damien Hardwick and Luke Beveridge are among those who have expressed their desire for the draft age to be raised in order to separate the football development of young players from their final school year.
But Walsh, who was the number one draft pick in 2018, said he saw no reason why the minimum draft age should be raised.
“I’m of the belief that at the age of 18 most guys are mature enough and ready to thrive at AFL level,” he said.
“I think that over the last 20 years, or however long we’ve been doing the draft, that’s been shown.
“For the kids that maybe aren’t ready yet, whether it be mentally or physically, there’s still other pathways, as we’ve seen.”
Walsh (centre) went to Carlton as the number one pick in the 2018 national draft. (AAP: James Ross)
Walsh, who won the AFL’s rising star award in his debut season last year, said he felt mature enough to play at the senior level when he was drafted ahead of the 2019 premiership campaign.
“For me personally, when I was in my draft year at the age of 18, the balance of school and footy gave me great structure,” he said.
“I feel if you push that age back then a lot of people would lose their way.
“Even if you didn’t want to go to uni and you wanted to get a trade, I don’t think too many people are going to be putting you on as a one-year apprentice knowing you’re going to get drafted the next year.
“There’s a lot of things that have been discussed about it but I think the way that it is at the moment really helps kids get the best out of themselves and I think the clubs are all for it as well.”
Walsh played every match for Carlton in his record-breaking debut season, averaging more than 25 disposals.
The 19-year-old was named in the Blues’ leadership group ahead of his second season.
“I am very young and I’ve got a lot to learn, and I’m aware of that, but that’s why the leadership group and everyone around me has been very supportive,” Walsh said.
“I’ve got a lot to learn but I also feel that I’ve got a lot to give, especially to the younger boys that are coming into the club.”