Eddie Betts speaks following his “emotional” return to Carlton.
From an outsiders perspective the 2012 AFL season looked like the last for Carlton midfielder Brock McLean.
But after kicking the match winning goal with 90 seconds to play against Richmond on the weekend, and keeping Carlton’s finals hopes alive, McLean’s fortunes are changing week by week.
After struggling to break into a midfield that contains Chris Judd, Marc Murphy, Andrew Carrazzo and Mitch Robinson, it looked as if the out of contract and out of favour McLean was destined to be delisted at the conclusion of the season, until a recent spell of games and strong form may have saved his career.
Taken with the fifth selection by Melbourne in the 2003 National Draft, McLean notched up 94 games with the Demons before requesting a trade to the Blues at the end of 2009.
Once touted as a future Melbourne captain the midfielder was traded for a first round draft pick, which Melbourne used to select Jordan Gysberts.
McLean signed a three-year contract with Carlton worth reportedly $400,000 a season, but since then he has only been able to add a further 20 games to his tally including 10 in 2012.
It has been the 10 games in 2012 that McLean has shown his worth to Carlton. His ability to get in and under and win the hardball has been vital to the Blues, especially with Murphy and Carrazzo missing extended periods this season through injury.
After being selected in the Round 4 team to take on Essendon – the match where Carrazzo went down with injury – McLean was dropped and didn’t reappear until the Round 9 clash with his former club. Since then he hasn’t missed a match.
In 10 games for Carlton this season, McLean has averaged 24 disposals, five tackles per game and kicked four goals. He is now seventh at Carlton for tackles and eight in total disposals for the 2012 season.
McLean was outstanding against Richmond on the weekend finishing with 27 disposals, 11 tackles and the match winning goal. Only Murphy had more possessions for Carlton with 36.
It is too early to say if Brock will be wearing the number 14 for Carlton next season, but his inclusion in the 22 for the remainder of the season should be secure as Carlton attempt to take a place in the top eight.
With games against Sydney, Essendon and St. Kilda still to come, McLean’s midfield presence and hardness will be a necessity if Carlton is to play finals football in 2012.
And if that early outsider’s prediction proves to be true there is a new team in Sydney that could most certainly benefit from a tough experienced midfielder.