Ararat’s Tom Williamson has had to quickly adjust to life as an AFL footballer during the opening stage of a tough first preseason with the Carlton Football Club.
The Carlton player joined a short camp to Tasmania with the other first year draftees before joining an 11-day training camp on the Gold Coast with the full squad.
He was recruited by the Blues at the 2016 national draft at pick 61.
The former Ararat Rat said he knew his first preseason at the club would be a challenging period.
"I was a little bit nervous coming in on the first day and meeting some of the bigger names,” he said.
“But at the end of the day they are ordinary blokes there for the same reason as me.
"I knew training would be pretty tough and challenging but going through it with five other draftees helped.
"The biggest thing is the amount of time we spend at the club, TAC Cup we do a couple of hours a week but it is full time in an AFL environment.”
Williamson said he was excited to have been assigned childhood hero Dale Thomas as his mentor at the club.
"I have lived with Dale since I went down there,” he said.
"Dale has been a hero of mine, I have got a poster of him up on the wall at home so it has been great.”
The new recruit said he has already received positive feedback from senior coach Brendon Bolton.
"Bolts has been pretty positive and is confident in my athletic ability,” he said.
"I would like to be in the mix for an early preseason game and put my name up there for selection.
"My main goal for the year is to play a senior game, then from there, build on it during the year.”
Williamson said he has spoken with coaches about the role he will play during games.
“I think across the half-back line at the start,” he said.
The 18-year-old said he was thankful for the opportunity and hopes to repay the faith.
"I cannot thank Carlton enough for what they have done and the way they have supported me during the past month.”
Williamson will wear the number 31 guernsey next year after being given the option to choose from the remaining vacant numbers.
The Blues’ new recruit returned to Ararat to spend the Christmas period with family and friends before returning to Melbourne to resume preseason training in early January.