Gold Coast's first-year star Bailey Humphrey can't wait to play Carlton on Saturday – and line up against his favourite player again.
After being taken at No.6 in last year's AFL Draft, Humphrey has played 18 games in a terrific debut season, but one stands out.
While the SUNS were thrashed by the Blues at the MCG in round 14, the 18-year-old remembers the match for a different reason.
"I was the biggest Patty Cripps fan growing up," Humphrey said with a huge smile on Wednesday.
"When we played Carlton, I lined up on him and I was like: 'Yeah!' He pushed me around a little bit. It definitely opened my eyes."
Humphrey kicked a goal from 11 disposals on that Sunday afternoon, while the reigning Brownlow medallist had 27 and kicked three in a contest that changed the trajectory of both clubs' season.
It was the first of Carlton's eight straight wins – and counting – while for the SUNS the defeat started a slide from what had been a 6-6 win-loss record.
One of the favourites for this year's Rising Star award, Humphrey has played most of his time at half-forward but has been exposed to more midfield time and centre bounces as the season has worn on.
"The more games I play, the easier it gets," he said.
"But it's still pretty cool to play against the person you looked up to in the AFL growing up.
"If he's there and he's alone, I'll definitely put my hand up to go to him. It's pretty cool."
Humphrey admitted his body was getting tired after not missing a match since his debut in round four against St Kilda.
He said he'd learnt so much in his first year at an AFL club, particularly around recovering from games, and was excited about improving his forward craft ahead of next season.
"I'm not coming off the best pre-season fitness-wise, I had a couple of interruptions, so it'll be exciting to see what I can do off a real pre-season and real fitness base," he said.