Sam Murray admits his AFL rising star nomination took him by surprise.
The 20-year-old Henty and Wodonga Raiders export has made an instant impact since crossing from Sydney to Collingwood in the off-season, playing all three games thus far.
Murray’s AFL debut came in round one against Hawthorn after two seasons on Sydney’s rookie list, averaging 20 disposals playing off half-back for the Magpies.
“You never expect to play AFL footy growing up, you always dream of it,” Murray said.
“To finally get there and play at the MCG three times in a row and potentially on Anzac Day in a couple of weeks time is super exciting.
“To hear the Collingwood fans go off when a goal is kicked or when we do something great, it lights you up inside.
“It took a while for me to take it in first game, but now it feels more like a natural thing.”
Murray’s 21-disposal effort in the club’s win against Carlton last Friday was his most rounded performance of his three games.
“There’s obviously a lot I still need to work on to get to the elite level I’m striving towards, but I think for me, being a young player only have played three games, the biggest one is finding consistency,” Murray said.
“I always knew I had the potential to play AFL footy.
“I was in a successful environment in Sydney where I had to wait a bit longer, which was what prepared me as a footballer.
“I think I’ve had confidence since I got to the club that there’s a bit of a licence there to run and carry and take the game on.
“Bucks (Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley) has given me the confidence to play my natural game and express myself on the field.”
Murray’s former coach at Wodonga Raiders Daryn Cresswell has backed Matt Neagle, the son of late Essendon premiership winger and Swans player Merv, to follow in his footsteps.
Neagle, 20, has been a late bloomer at the Raiders, but Cresswell would love to see him get an AFL opportunity after showing plenty at Ovens and Murray level.