‘Curious’ Cam soaking it all in

Cameron PolsonWhenever time and circumstance allows at Ikon Park, Cameron Polson relishes the prospect of pitting his goalkicking skills against the likes of Zac Fisher.

“We usually pair up and vie for a free coffee that the winner enjoys if he shoots the most goals over 10 shots from anywhere on the park,” Polson explained.

“You have to kick from where the first person kicks, and I reckon I’ve won a couple and lost a couple. Hopefully I can get ahead.”

Polson, Carlton’s fourth-named player in the 2016 AFL National Draft, is steadily progressing through the 2016/17 summer campaign. Having completely overcome a hamstring tweaked in pre-season just prior to Christmas, Polson’s making a real impression in full-scale training at Ikon Park.

To think he’d managed just four matches for Sandringham Dragons through the ’16 season proper – the legacy of a shoulder dislocation incurred in laying a tackle, which warranted substantial surgery and toyed with his psyche in the weeks and months to draft day.

“I was pretty flat when I did it because I thought the dream was over,” Polson conceded this week. “I then got a call from Stephen Silvagni just prior to the draft and he was one of the first club people to call, which gave me a little bit of relief.”

Polson believed his leg speed and that rare capacity to break the lines were attributes that piqued the interest of the Carlton list manager – and so his name was named at selection 59, one of seven Dragons to be called (five of them in the top 11) by club recruiters.

Rewind to March 11, 1998, when Polson was born one minute prior to his sister Belinda. In Gary and Julie Polson, the twins earned two loving parents, each of whom raised two children by their previous marriages – Benjamin (28) and Ashley (25), and Jason (29) and Jordan (27) respectively.

Polson believes he probably inherited the sporting gene from his father, who previously turned out for Sandringham in the VFA where he forged a handsome reputation as a nippy on-baller with real nous. To quote Cam: “Dad is probably my greatest influence, 100 per cent”.

“Dad had a footy brain and I’ve tried to learn from him,” Polson said. “We often talk about footy and hold many football conversations at home.”

Another influence on Polson, a one-time Essendon supporter, was James Hird.

“I always liked him (Hird) as a player,” Polson said. “He was always professional and he always seemed to have time with the ball.”

To that list add the Western Bulldogs premiership coach Luke Beveridge – Polson’s coach at local club St Peters.

“He (Beveridge) was quite similar to ‘Bolts’ (Carlton coach Brendon Bolton),” Polson said.

“He was approachable, personable and a teacher. You could talk to him about football and about things other than footy, he clearly cared about what you were doing on and off the field, and that’s always been good for me because I’m pretty curious.”

At Carlton, Polson’s been no less inquisitive. He’s gravitated towards the captain Marc Murphy no less as he can see similarities in size and style, and Bryce Gibbs also gets a gong.

“‘Murph’ teaches me a lot about his work at stoppages and his spread. He’s a true pro and I’ve already learnt plenty in watching the way he goes about his training,” Polson said.

“When I roomed with Bryce Gibbs on the Gold Coast for a week I picked up a lot of his preparation techniques and clearly he’s a true professional also.”

Formerly a schoolboy footballer at Cheltenham Secondary and, more recently, Haileybury College, Polson led Haileybury’s 1st XVIII with distinction through his final year as a student.

These days he commutes to and from the family home in Black Rock to complete his substantial training commitments – and he can’t wait to hit the track.

Though his recently-acquired nickname leaves a lot to be desired (he answers to “Nissan” as a play on words with the car manufacturer’s Pulsar range), Polson is forever grateful to be part of a young, emerging group on Royal Parade.

As he said: “I’m pretty excited because I believe there’s a lot of room in this team for growth, and the senior players will fast-track our improvement. That’s exciting for me.”

One day, Polson looks forward to meeting Carlton’s accomplished 215-game best and fairest Heath Scotland, whose No.29 he now carries on his back.

For the moment though, it’s the prospect of a JLT Community fixture or three that most appeals to Polson, C.