BENEFITING from his famous surname was not on Jack Silvagni’s agenda beyond being a Carlton father-son selection.
The 19-year-old forward’s father, Stephen, and grandfather, Sergio, are Blues greats and premiership players to boot, so his ascension to the club was another storied chapter.
But coach Brendon Bolton, who arrived at Ikon Park just before Silvagni in late 2015, put his highest-profile teenager at ease with a matter of words.
“I’ve been embraced by all the boys coming in and was lucky enough to come in with a level group of first-year (players) and the coaches make sure you never get ahead of yourself,” Silvagni told AFL.com.au.
“We like to be humble and respected by others, and Bolts has preached no pecking order – Silvagni or not.”
Silvagni cost Carlton the No.53 draft pick and is the fourth Blue this season to earn a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination, behind Caleb Marchbank (round six), Sam Petrevski-Seton (seven) and David Cuningham (12).
It is a record Carlton haul for a single season – beating 2003, when Trent Sporn, Jarrad Waite and Brad Fisher were nominated. The Blues never had back-to-back nominations before this year and have now done it twice.
Silvagni’s two goals came in a thrilling last quarter, helping Carlton hold off a Gold Coast line-up that briefly snatched the lead. The athlete on show was a long way removed from the self-confessed slow and unfit version that rolled into the club two years ago.
“I was happy to have an influence in the last quarter,” he said.
“Early in my first year was a little tough, because I went down with a couple of niggly, soft-tissue injuries, but I was able to string a couple of VFL games together and crack the senior side.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be in the ones for the whole year and playing some reasonable footy, although it’s still a little inconsistent for what I’d like.
“I’m more accustomed to the speed of the game and the way we play and want to play, but I have a bit more understanding of my role in the team and it’s starting to come together nicely.”
Silvagni, once a “big footy head” obsessed with the game, has matured to the point he now realises he needs to have football downtime.
That comes through his university studies in property and commerce, and spending time with friends and family as just a normal kid for a while.
It is young men like Silvagni helping generate the significant buzz around the Blues, particularly with successive victories improving their record to 5-7 – just one win out of the top eight.
A supporter base that became used to success has been starved of it for so long, but there is suddenly light at the end of the tunnel. Silvagni’s father is playing a key role in that as list manager.
“It’s exciting times, but we’re keeping it all in perspective and we’re under no illusions where we sit,” Silvagni said.
“We’ve had lapses in concentration that allowed other teams back in games, which was disappointing, but the last few weeks it’s been good to finish games off.”
• NAB AFL Rising Star hub: news, nominees and past winners
• How does the Rising Star Award work and who is eligible?