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'Ciarán will handle the pressure'

CARLTON Aussie Rules star Zach Tuohy says Ciaran Kilkenny will be well able to cope with the pressure that the spotlight of playing with Hawthorn can bring after his signing for the club became the most high profile since the departure of Kerry's Tommy Walsh down under.

While Laois man Tuohy enjoyed a relatively under the radar transition to AFL, Kilkenny had to endure a year of speculation before signing with this year's Grand Finalists. However Tuohy believes the Castleknock teenager is already be well accustomed to pressure.

"As long as he's mentally tough enough, it won't matter. He would be used to pressure," he said of the former Dublin minor and U-21 star.

"Just like Tommy, being from Kerry, the pressure on those boys would have been exceptional growing up. It would have been the same deal for Ciarán in Dublin. He just has to block it out."

The duo could have been team-mates had Kilkenny instead decided to put pen to paper with the Carlton Blues who chased the signature of the young Dub along with the Hawks.

"I would have loved to have played alongside him of course, but you can't blame him for choosing what's right for him. I haven't caught up with him yet but I look forward to it. As long as he's being looked after, that's all that matters."

Kilkenny was the sole Irish signing for season 2013 and Tuohy said the numbers prove that Irish recruitment won't sore despite the AFL's expansion.

"It will never get to the stage where there will be 30 or 40 players coming out. It will only ever be two or three if that. I really like to see guys coming out to play here. It's a fantastic opportunity and the quality of life here is great."

Tuohy said the blame for Kilkenny's loss to Gaelic games, and that of other players who have given up the sport in favour of professional pursuits, lies squarely at the GAA's door.

"The way they (the GAA) treat players makes me never want to go home to play. You see how well the AFL look after their players and then you look at the GAA. Players train so hard for peanuts or nothing. It's embarrassing and it's ridiculous."

It's been a busy off-season for Tuohy who has bulked up with extra weight training and completed a training camp in Arizona with new coach Mick Malthouse.

"He's been great so far. He's approachable and very easy to talk to. When a coach, with a record like his, comes to the club you sit up and take notice."