No.1 draft pick Sam Walsh has given Carlton fans a tantalising glimpse of his bright future with an eye-catching display in Thursday's practice match against Hawthorn.
Starting mainly off a wing, Walsh saw plenty of the ball and impressed with his clean disposal, sharp decision-making and relentless work rate in front of a crowd of around 4,000 fans at Ikon Park.
Carlton suffered a 12.5 (77) to 8.5 (53) defeat but the score line mattered little in light of Walsh's captivating emergence as a new fan favourite.
"He's been outstanding ... the intensity he trains at allows him to play like that," assistant coach David Teague said.
"He just competes ... he works hard and he competes. If you do that and bring a bit of talent you're going to go a fair way I think.
"I've never seen a first year player train at that intensity and generally the guys that train well are the ones that can follow it up (on the field).
"I think he's prepared himself really well."
Brendon Bolton still has plenty of work to do before round one on the evidence of a scoreless third quarter, but there were other positives beside Walsh.
Full-back Liam Jones looks to have regained some lost confidence, flying for several big marks, David Cunningham booted two goals and mature-aged recruit Michael Gibbons didn't look out of place at the level.
Former Adelaide star Mitch McGovern played the first half before he was rested.
He struggled to have an impact but will be better for the run as he regains full fitness after a back injury.
Veteran midfielder Marc Murphy sent a scare through the camp when he limped to the bench and had ice applied to a knee.
"I think he just got a knock," Teague said.
"He was only going to play three quarters so there was no risk taken.
"It won't be anything major."
Oft-injured Hawk Jaeger O'Meara is clearly reaping the benefits of a strong pre-season and was his side's best player, with James Worpel also impressive on the ball.
Paul Puopolo was lively as ever inside 50 with two goals, while youngster Dylan Moore made the most of his opportunities and also booted two goals.
Luke Breust, who slotted two goals after pulling out of Friday's AFLX tournament, suffered a dislocated finger but was able to finish the game.
Australian Associated Press