Walsh set for AFL debut
Published 20/01/2010 | 05:00
Kerry's All-Ireland-winning forward Tommy Walsh looks likely to make his competitive Aussie Rules debut next month.
The former Young Footballer of the Year has been earning rave reviews for his efforts in training since joining St Kilda on a two-year international rookie contract in October. His coach, Ross Lyon, is anxious to see how he will fare in first-team action.
With that in mind, the 21-year-old who "physically, is capable of doing anything" has been tipped to be let off the leash in the pre-season NAB Cup against Collingwood on February 19.
St Kilda football manager, Greg Hutchison, conceded that it would be "pretty exciting" to see the big Tralee man set loose.
"The coach will make up his mind about when he plays him but the NAB Cup is interesting because it's an opportunity to try some people that maybe haven't got a background in AFL football," said Hutchison.
"It would be pretty exciting if we saw Tommy Walsh run out in Round 1 of the NAB Cup. He can play at either end of the ground and once he understands the nuances of the game, who knows where he's going to go with it all?"
Reports from Down Under suggest that Walsh has got to grips with the oval ball quickly, while his pace for a man of his stature has surprised many.
He has settled in with the rest of the squad, who have quickly christened him 'Ivan', after the blond-haired Russian villain in Rocky IV, Ivan Drago.
"Where he's come from pre-Christmas and when he got here, he's really improved," Hutchison enthused. "Physically, he's capable of doing anything. The greatest challenge for him is learning the the game and its skills, and once he gets a handle on that, physically I think he's got the attributes to make an impact.
"It may work or it may not, but if it does work, we've certainly got a free player, if you like. What he's shown playing Gaelic football, even if we can get a little bit of that, we might have found a player. He's a really quiet fellow but he goes about his business in a really professional way."