THE emergence of West Australian youngster Patrick Cripps has been a rare positive in a disastrous season for Carlton.
Taken with pick No.13 at the 2013 draft, Cripps showed some promise in three games last year, but has averaged 23 disposals and five tackles a game in nine outings this season.
That has elevated him to favouritism for the Rising Star award, and a career-high 31 disposals and 12 tackles in the shock win over Port Adelaide will only have enhanced that rating.
The 20-year-old, tipped by some good judges as the player most likely to fill the gap left by the retirement of dual Brownlow medallist Chris Judd at Carlton, said he had simply focused on getting fitter and quicker in the off-season.
"To be honest, I didn't really expect to play like this," Cripps (pictured) told AFL.com.au.
"At the start of the year I just wanted to get a spot in the side. My goal was to play 10 games this season."