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AFL preview series: Carlton Blues – 17th

Cameron Rose Columnist

By Cameron Rose, Cameron Rose is a Roar Expert


191 Have your say

    In the back of a car on a long journey, children are famous for asking “Are we there yet?” Their attention span isn’t long, they get bored after a while, and just want to know if they’ve arrived.

    Carlton is in the midst of a rebuild that is taking forever.

    Fans aren’t so much impatient as they are apathetic. Opposition supporters have long since stopped paying attention. It can’t be too long before ‘I Spy’ starts getting played.

    B: Lachie Plowman, Jacob Weitering, Cam O’Shea
    HB: Caleb Marchbank, Liam Jones, Kade Simpson
    C: Sam Petrevski-Seton, Patrick Cripps, Aaron Mullett
    HF: Darcy Lang, Charlie Curnow, Matthew Wright
    F: Jed Lamb, Levi Casboult, Jack Silvagni
    Foll: Matthew Kreuzer, Ed Curnow, Marc Murphy
    Int: Zac Fisher, Dale Thomas, Matthew Kennedy, Tom Williamson
    Em: Sam Kerridge, Nick Graham, Ciaran Byrne

    The Blues have been going with a dual-pronged approach during their rebuild – hitting the national draft consistently, while also hoping to hit on hidden gems from other clubs by orchestrating a mass intake every other year.

    They have ten players on their list to have been taken in the top 30 in the last three drafts. They’ve done well there. Charlie Curnow and Jacob Weitering are on track to be genuine stars of the competition, a centre half-forward / centre half-back combination that will hold the club in good stead for a decade.

    Sam Petrevski-Seton suggested he’s going to be a gun in his first season last year, while Zac Fisher didn’t show as much in a bits and pieces role but will gain great benefit from his 17 games.

    These are the headliners from the last few drafts, with Paddy Dow, taken at pick three in the most recent national draft, predicted to join them.

    There has also been plenty of average stuff walk through the door at Princes Park, ostensibly to fill a hole while the rebuild takes place. Think of Sam Kerridge, Jed Lamb, Alex Silvagni, Andrew Phillips and Jarrod Pickett. To that list this year we can add Aaron Mullett, Cam O’Shea, Darcy Lang, Matthew Kennedy, Jarrod Garlett and Matt Shaw.

    Where the Blues recruiting staff have been canny is to mostly target younger players, in the hope that the odd one kicks on. To give them due credit, they have had enough do so to make the exercise worthwhile.

    They can thank their lucky stars Sam Docherty chose Carlton when leaving Brisbane. Caleb Marchbank and Lachie Plowman have proven valuable down back. Liam Jones took his sweet time, and needed a change of role, but it looks like he’ll now be a good player. Matt Wright, while not young, has been a win up forward.

    The Carlton gameplan under Bolton has been reliant on intercepting in the back half of the ground, and then patient ball movement going forward.

    The backline is well set up for the intercept play through Jones, Weitering, Marchbank and Plowman. They’ll be tough to penetrate. But they do look to lack some rebound class outside the ageing Kade Simpson.

    Docherty did so much of the heavy lifting back there, so his ACL injury is obviously going to hurt them. Cam O’Shea looks the obvious replacement to take this role, with Tom Williamson and Ciaran Byrne in the mix here too.

    The midfield will be led by the mighty Patrick Cripps, the only Carlton player in The Roar top 50 list last week; hopefully he can stay injury free.


    Marc Murphy will ride shotgun again, coming off his best season for many years. His class will be at the fore of any attacking forays the Blues can muster.

    Ed Curnow will help Cripps on the inside, and tag an opponent when required. Aaron Mullet has been recruited to help the outside game, potentially on a wing, and may also fill a hole at half-back.

    Matthew Kreuzer is coming off a season that was career-best by a country mile. He’s only missed one game in each of the last two years after a career plagued by injury. He could easily have won All-Australian selection in 2017, and could well be seen as the number one ruckman in the competition this year.

    The question is how much can the younger players add? Can Petrevski-Seton and Fisher avoid the second year blues? Is it just greater opportunity that Matthew Kennedy has been waiting for, which he will surely get now after his move from GWS?

    Whichever way you cut it, the midfield looks thin after the departure of Bryce Gibbs.

    The forward-line hasn’t been helped in previous years by conservative ball movement that Bolton has needed to protect the defence from cricket scores being kicked against them. But even if the Blues do start trying to attack and give their forwards plenty of one-on-one opportunities, there’s not a lot there to be scared of.

    Charlie Curnow broke out in the second half of last year. In his first 11 matches in 2017 he averaged 78 per cent game time. In the next ten games he played 87 per cent. His stats and impact went through the roof accordingly. The promise of more to come after another pre-season to build fitness is exciting for all football fans. A fitter Curnow will get to more contests, allowing him to put that contested marking prowess to even greater use.

    Charlie Curnow Carlton Blues AFL 2017

    Levi Casboult will do what he does, but can become a bit more dangerous if the best defenders go to Curnow now. Wright will be solid in support as always.

    Darcy Lang has been recruited to add some bite around the forward-line, and Bolton will be wanting to find some more pressure players, with that sure to be a focus of all teams this year. Pickett and Lamb were poor in this area last year. Can someone like Garlett provide the answer, like his cousin Jeff does at Melbourne?

    Carlton finished 16th last year, with six wins and a percentage of 78. They’ve lost two of their best five players coming into this year, replacing them with the motley crew of O’Shea, Mullett, Lang and Kennedy.

    Are the Blues there yet? The simple answer is no, and won’t be for a while yet. Now, go play with your iPad or read a book or something. And stop asking me for ice-cream. There isn’t any.

    Prediction: 17th

    Cam Rose ladder prediction
    17. Carlton
    18. Gold Coast Suns

    Cameron Rose
    Cameron Rose

    Cameron Rose is a born and bred Melbournian, raised on a regime of AFL, cricket and horse racing. He likes people who agree with him but loves those that don't, for there's nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.

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    The Crowd Says (191)

    • February 20th 2018 @ 5:32am
      Mattician6x6 said | February 20th 2018 @ 5:32am | ! Report

      Cam- another great write up with some very good points.
      My question is if there is no movement and this rebuild stalls in any way, how long can Carlton keep selling the vision/dream to players like Cripps and sps?
      From a wa perspective if I was wce or freo I’d be shaking that tree relentlessly to pry either one loose as it does look like both WA teams are more likely to be contending long before this current blues team will.

      • Columnist

        February 20th 2018 @ 8:02am
        Cameron Rose said | February 20th 2018 @ 8:02am | ! Report

        Thanks Mattician.

        It’s a very good point I think, and you’re right I’d be doing the same. The problem is WC and Freo are basically in the same position as Carlton at the moment, with success a long way in the future. Gibbs could go to Adelaide because of the clear opportunity in front of him.

        I do think the Blues will spike at some point, but not this year.

      • February 20th 2018 @ 8:09am
        Kane said | February 20th 2018 @ 8:09am | ! Report

        I’d be very surprised if Cripps even entertained leaving, from the outside looking in he seems Carlton through and through. He doesn’t seem to be the sort of personality where money will play a massive part in deciding his future. SPS comes across the same way. Again from the outside looking in it looks like the Baggers are starting to build a culture where player’s want to stay.

        • Roar Rookie

          February 21st 2018 @ 10:08am
          Pedro The Fisherman said | February 21st 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

          You mean players like Gibbs and Tuohy? The good ones leave. The average ones are staying!

          • February 21st 2018 @ 10:11pm
            Kane said | February 21st 2018 @ 10:11pm | ! Report

            You might want to read what i wrote again because what you replied with has absolutely nothing to do with what i said. It’s obvious why you call yourself a fisherman, obviously you’re only here to try to get a few bites with that comment.

            • Roar Rookie

              February 22nd 2018 @ 10:55am
              Pedro The Fisherman said | February 22nd 2018 @ 10:55am | ! Report

              You might want to rewrite your line which states ‘…it looks like the Baggers are starting to build a culture where player’s want to stay’ if you don’t want people to point out the obvious and recent errors in your post!

              • February 22nd 2018 @ 2:06pm
                Kane said | February 22nd 2018 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

                Yes with “starting” being the key word

      • February 21st 2018 @ 12:52pm
        Bludger said | February 21st 2018 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

        Would not be surprised if Carlton made the 8. Results have become incredibly chaotic. If the Dogs and Tigers could win flags like they did, the Blues making the finals is not going to be such a shock.

        Expect to see Cripps and Curnow become All Australians.

        Unfortunately I can see teams like Geelong, North Melbourne, Hawthorn and Sydney continue to go backwards.

    • February 20th 2018 @ 5:42am
      Chris said | February 20th 2018 @ 5:42am | ! Report

      Mattician, if you’re from WA you don’t understand the most quintessential thing about the old VFL. Two teams will always be able to keep their talent. Carlton and Collingwood. Once you are a part of the family, you never leave unless your performances are not up to par. These two are not your average team.They have history and pride that keeps their playing personnel satisfied. The talent that these teams have does not leave….

      • February 20th 2018 @ 6:14am
        Mattician6x6 said | February 20th 2018 @ 6:14am | ! Report

        Chris- That is the old vfl, we are talking afl, one thing as a Victorian you may not realise is Cripps has a cousin at wce and a mother whose maiden name was mainwairing ( a name synonymous with wce) . Carlton are firmly entrenched to the bottom half of the ladder and I doubt just because it’s Carlton they’ll retain players if this current rebuild stagnates.
        Players stay with clubs for success not for the adulation if being the best player in a crap side.

      • Columnist

        February 20th 2018 @ 7:57am
        Cameron Rose said | February 20th 2018 @ 7:57am | ! Report

        I can think of Heath Shaw and Dayne Beams off the top of my head, whose performances didn’t dictate leaving Collingwood in recent times. Lumumba too.

        As for Carlton, Bryce Gibbs and Zach Tuohy come immediately to mind.

        • Roar Guru

          February 20th 2018 @ 11:47am
          Dalgety Carrington said | February 20th 2018 @ 11:47am | ! Report

          They’ve also blocked Eddie Betts from their memory banks. Obviously too painful a memory to keep there.

      • February 20th 2018 @ 9:10am
        Harsh Truth Harry said | February 20th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

        Rightio Chris, except have you heard of a bloke called Eddie Betts? Not a bad player, once played for Carlton. Sticks and Malthouse got rid of him to make way for Daisy Thomas on $800K a year.

        • Roar Rookie

          February 20th 2018 @ 10:08am
          Pedro The Fisherman said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

          Lets not forget Sauce Jacobs as well!

          • February 20th 2018 @ 10:46am
            Neil from Warrandyte said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:46am | ! Report

            And Shaun Grigg, now a premiership player.

        • Roar Guru

          February 20th 2018 @ 11:50am
          Dalgety Carrington said | February 20th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

          Even Macca had wiped Eddie from his recollections of the Carlton leavers club just a week or two ago.

          • February 20th 2018 @ 11:53am
            Macca said | February 20th 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report


            • Roar Guru

              February 20th 2018 @ 11:57am
              Dalgety Carrington said | February 20th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

              “?” is right.

              • February 20th 2018 @ 11:58am
                Macca said | February 20th 2018 @ 11:58am | ! Report

                I know, that is why I posted it. I have no idea what you are talking about.

              • Roar Guru

                February 20th 2018 @ 12:06pm
                Dalgety Carrington said | February 20th 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report


              • February 20th 2018 @ 5:41pm
                Don Freo said | February 20th 2018 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

                DC, that is a magnificent series of responses.

        • February 20th 2018 @ 8:23pm
          me too said | February 20th 2018 @ 8:23pm | ! Report

          Aaron Hamill broke quite a few blue hearts – and even preferred a wooden spooner to the mighty brown paper baggers

    • February 20th 2018 @ 6:15am
      Mattician6x6 said | February 20th 2018 @ 6:15am | ! Report

      Chris- That is the old vfl, we are talking afl, one thing as a Victorian you may not realise is Cripps has a cousin at wce and a mother whose maiden name was mainwairing ( a name synonymous with wce) . Carlton are firmly entrenched to the bottom half of the ladder and I doubt just because it’s Carlton they’ll retain players if this current rebuild stagnates.
      Players stay with clubs for success not for the adulation of being the best player in a crap side.

    • February 20th 2018 @ 7:28am
      JustAnotherVoiceOnTheInternet said | February 20th 2018 @ 7:28am | ! Report

      Haha another brutal (but mostly fair) prediction Cam, I think Macca may have some choice words however..

      My ladder:
      17. North Melbourne
      18. Gold Coast

      • Columnist

        February 20th 2018 @ 8:04am
        Cameron Rose said | February 20th 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        I’ll be checking in regularly for Macca’s thoughts, no doubt about it!

        A lot people have pegged North for a bottom two finish, I’ve got them a bit higher.

        • February 20th 2018 @ 5:44pm
          Don Freo said | February 20th 2018 @ 5:44pm | ! Report

          Carlton might have Hawthorn covered as well…but this is a good write up. Indications are that I just might be not so welcoming of your Dockers preview.

          • Columnist

            February 20th 2018 @ 7:02pm
            Cameron Rose said | February 20th 2018 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

            I would expect nothing less Don!

    • February 20th 2018 @ 7:33am
      PeteB said | February 20th 2018 @ 7:33am | ! Report

      Rebuild taking forever ? The Malthouse years were a disaster that has been swept away and this rebuild under Bolton is only in its infancy.

      • Columnist

        February 20th 2018 @ 8:11am
        Cameron Rose said | February 20th 2018 @ 8:11am | ! Report

        Yeah, I think it feels interminable because of the way they play sometimes.

      • February 20th 2018 @ 6:14pm
        Steve009 said | February 20th 2018 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

        Yep, this rebuild has gone for a whole 2 years.
        The talls taken in the first draft (plus Cunningham) are entering their 3rd season.
        Midfielders targeted in the next 2 drafts are entering their 1st and 2nd seasons.

        If Cam’s correct 10 top 30 draft picks in the last 3 drafts. + late draft pick finds Tom Williamson and Jack Silvagni. With Harry McKay, Paddy Dow expected (hoped ) to play regular footy this season and possibly Lochie Obrian that’s 12 players in their first 3 seasons of football that will play a lot of football for Carlton this year. Add Marchbank, Kennedy, Pickett and Lang as players at the early stages of their careers. Talented yes, inexperienced definitely. Patience is required, it’s just part of the process of building through the draft. Again, it’s been only 2 years people.

        Add Cripps, Docherty and Plowman to that list of young talent that Carlton is developing and you can probably understand why blues fans are being both patient for now and excited for the not to distant future.

    • February 20th 2018 @ 8:20am
      Harsh Truth Harry said | February 20th 2018 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      The Age finally came up with an article that basically took everything Mattyb and I have been saying about Carlton fans for the past four months. Even the fans have given up apart from the ones with blinkers on like Macca and Col and Slane.

      Five year rebuild claims are a disgrace. No club deserves to be told their club will do nothing but rebuild for a whole 5 years. In that time a kid can go from a fresh faced excited 13 year old who loves footy to a hardened 18 year old who has lost his passion for the game by 18 thanks to a low performing club. I see it with the kids I coach who had the misfortune of having their Dad support this once proud club. Bolton and SOS have sold a lie straight after a burnt out Malthouse, appointed by Sticks Kernahan in the final nail in the coffin and broke the club and gave away Eddie Betts. They went backwards last year and were the lowest scoring club by over 100 points. They are going nowhere and the AFL needs to either step in and take over the running of this club or boot them out to the VFA.

      • February 20th 2018 @ 9:17am
        olrac said | February 20th 2018 @ 9:17am | ! Report

        I am a blues supporter and have had memberships on and off over the years and have joined and let the membership slide for different reasons but mainly nothing to do with the team. Jake Nial’s article just missed one salient point, this year the blues are on track to get their highest ever tally of members. So if SOS and Bolts are selling a dud, then they are doing a fine job of it.

        • February 20th 2018 @ 10:37am
          Harsh Truth Harry said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          you miss the point of the article Olrac. Comparative memberships for Collingwood, Essendon, Richmond and Carlton, once the BIG 4. Comparative growth shows three of those clubs still growing exponentially, one has slid way down and that is Carlton.

        • February 20th 2018 @ 10:53am
          mattyb said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          Olrac,the point is how far away Carlton have slipped from clubs like Collingwood and Richmond,and even Hawthorns membership is far greater than Carltons,and Essendon despite their own issues.
          The membership issue needs to be considered in context. Carlton were an enormous club comparable to Collingwood,where have all these people gone. Being an enormous club obviously some are still around,but where are the mass numbers that used to support this club?

          Good on the board though for now realizing how serious the issue has become.
          As a football fan I can’t encourage Carlton fans to buy a membership and actually get along to games enough.

          • February 20th 2018 @ 1:05pm
            Macca said | February 20th 2018 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

            “Carlton were an enormous club comparable to Collingwood,where have all these people gone” Nowhere, they are still supporters like the have always been they just have never been members.

            In the last 5 years the blues have been 4th, 4th, 6th, 6th & 4th for attendance during the home and away season and their membership has continued to grow – there is no evidence of people leaving.

          • February 20th 2018 @ 2:47pm
            olrac said | February 20th 2018 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

            I don’t disagree with the tenant of the article that Carlton have not been good at turning supporters into members. However I suppose I was not really happy with this comment from Half Truth Harry using the article as support:

            Even the fans have given up apart from the ones with blinkers on like Macca and Col and Slane.

            If numbers of members are going up this year then surely that would mean that Carlton must have blinkers as part of their membership packs.

            Also that Carlton has brought in someone involved in the Tigers success means they recognize this issue as well.

      • February 20th 2018 @ 10:41am
        Slane said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:41am | ! Report

        The fact that you think I barrack for Carlton just goes to show how easily your comments can be dismissed.

      • February 20th 2018 @ 11:55am
        Macca said | February 20th 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

        HTH – you clearly didn’t understand the article – it was talking about the fact the blues have NEVER had the fanatic’s that drive the Tigers membership, not that the fans are leaving.

        And Slane is a Tigers supporter.

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2018 @ 12:08pm
        Paul Dawson said | February 20th 2018 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        Slane barracks for Carlton? You really are dense

      • February 21st 2018 @ 9:59am
        The Original Buzz said | February 21st 2018 @ 9:59am | ! Report

        Being a blues fan, I agree with Jake in his article to a certain degree. They dropped a lot of good players to bring in duds, even getting rid of a winning coach to bring in Malthouse. Kernahan was the biggest problem with the Blues during his time at the helm.
        They do need to re-engage the fans and I believe they are doing that. This year will need to produce some wins or it will be a step backwards. They don’t need to be top eight but certainly get wins on the board.

      • February 21st 2018 @ 3:19pm
        Bludger said | February 21st 2018 @ 3:19pm | ! Report

        Who wrote the article? Jake Niall, Essendon supporter and Hird apologist extraordinaire.

        Funny thing is, even when Carlton was on the bottom of the ladder, they were still averaging amongst the highest gates in the competition.

        I went to the last time Carlton played a final in Melbourne against Richmond. They got just a shade under 100k rocking up to a 1st week of the finals elimination final.

        Turn it up. If anything the Blues have almost the largest following in Australia of any club more like it. You meet Bluebaggers all over the land.