Carlton ruckman Shaun Hampson says he has worked too hard for his AFL berth to consider resting and giving Robbie Warnock a chance to snatch it.
While several star Blues, including captain Chris Judd, skipped Sunday’s clash with Greater Western Sydney, Hampson wants to play every game this year.
The athletic 201cm player managed just nine AFL games last season – missing some on form early in the season, then having the second half of his year ruined by a knee injury.
Having solidified his place partnering Matthew Kreuzer this year, while last season’s No.1 ruckman Warnock waits in the wings, Hampson is determined to stay there.
“If they came to me asking if I wanted a rest, I definitely would have said no,” Hampson told reporters on Monday.
“Robbie being so close, if he comes in and has a good game it might be tough for me to come (back) in the next week.”
Warnock was initially selected to play his first AFL game of the year against the Giants, with Kreuzer slated to rest.
But a minor hamstring injury to Warnock late last week forced his withdrawal and Kreuzer’s reinstatement.
Hampson said Kreuzer, who has battled injury in the past two years, had been disappointed to miss out on a weekend off, but remained in good physical shape.
Of his own form, Hampson said he had benefitted noticeably from off-season eye surgery, particularly in night games, but had also worked hard in the pre-season, motivated by the strong competition for ruck spots.
“I want to see it pay off now, so I want to make sure I’m in that team for every game now,” he said.
He and Kreuzer could have a big impact against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium next Monday night, given their major height advantage over Jason Blake, pinch-hitting in the ruck for the injured Ben McEvoy.
“He’s not a proper ruckman, but he’s still going to crack in and he’s a great player, so he could do a lot of damage around the ground,” Hampson said of Blake.
“You’ll have to see how it goes. Obviously having McEvoy out is an advantage.”
The Saints also expect to lose talented defender Sam Fisher (hamstring), while Carlton should welcome back Judd, Jarrad Waite, Chris Yarran and Ed Curnow.
They will also want a four-quarter effort, after Hampson admitted complacency contributed to a poor first half against GWS.
“Once we started cracking in like we were supposed to do we turned it around,” he said.