Squad Breakdown: Carlton Blues 2023 SC analysis

We take an in-depth look at Carlton's SuperCoach credentials heading into the 2023 AFL season.

AFL Pre Season

It’s hard to fault Carlton’s 2022 season, except for the part where they completely and utterly capitulated at the final hurdle, finishing just fingertips away from ending their 10-year finals drought.  

From Round 19 onwards, they did not record a single win; and just to rub salt into the wounds, they let a 24-point 3QT lead slip in the final game of the year against their archrivals, Collingwood, to eventually lose by a point in a game where all they needed was a draw to make the top eight.

With Patty Cripps coming off a spectacular individual 2022 season – capping it off with a Brownlow Medal – there’s no doubt he will want to carry that momentum into 2023 with a finals campaign in his mind.

However, with Sam Walsh likely to miss the start of the season, it’s imperative that the Blues start well in his absence given that they clearly don’t know how to finish a season in strong fashion.

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FB: M. McGovern, J. Weitering, A. Saad

HB: N. Newman, L. Young, C. Marchbank

C: B. Acres, P. Cripps, A. Cerra

HF: J. Martin, C. Curnow, Z. Fisher

FF: J. Motlop, H. McKay, C. Durdin

FOL: M. Pittonet, G. Hewett, S. Docherty

INT: J. Silvagni, Z. Williams, M. Kennedy, O. Hollands

SUB: M. Cottrell

EMG: L. Plowman, M. Owies, T. De Koning, L. O’Brien

List Changes

Blake Acres will add some run and dash off the wing after a career best year for the Dockers, while the addition of pick 11, Oli Hollands, will be sure to add some quality depth to their outside mid stocks.

After a sporadic career with the Blues (which did include one of the best after-the-siren goals of the decade), Jack Newnes was delisted, alongside Will Hayes, Oscar McDonald, Luke Parks, Liam Stocker, and Tom Williamson.

Will Setterfield also bounced across to Essendon in the hopes of finding more game time, a move that was evidently mutually beneficial for both him and Carlton.

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Lock & Load

If you’re looking for an early leg-up on the competition, Patty Cripps LOVES playing without Sam Walsh.

Yep, with Walshy expected to miss the start of the season after undergoing back surgery in mid-December, it gives Crippa the opportunity to do what he loves most: stepping up and carrying the team on his shoulders.

In Round 1 last year – when Walsh didn’t play – Crippa notched up 132 points against the ‘Tiges (the same team he’ll play in Round 1 this year), and in Round 23 – when Walsh didn’t play – He dominated the Magpies for a score of 121; both significantly higher scores than his season average of 111.

But it’s not just Walsh’s absence that gets Cripps fired up, because he also dominated when George Hewett was out last year too! Clearly there’s a correlation here.

In the games that Hewett didn’t play last year, Cripps scored 138, 151, 118, 146, 104, 117, and 121.

My point is, if one of Walsh or Hewett is out, you can guarantee that Cripps is going to do-mi-nate.

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You know who else will benefit from Walsh’s injury? Sam Docherty!

According to reports, Doc has been training with the mids all pre-season and looks set to carry that into Round 1!

It’s a position he was first introduced to at the back end of last year and he didn’t look out of place for one second.

Yes, I know, if he’s playing on-ball that means less opportunity for cheap kicks and marks in defence, but in the two games he started in the midfield last season, he scored 121 and 138!

It’s a coin flip between him and Dawson for who takes my D1 position.

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With Docherty’s permanent move into the midfield becoming more and more likely, it frees up a ton of space at half-back; space that Nic Newman would love to occupy.

When he was at the Swans, Newman relished in the distributor role out of defence, but it’s something that he has never quite had the opportunity to explore at the Blues.

Now that Docherty is out of the equation, there is a role available for him and perhaps he can get back to his 2019 best when he averaged 97.

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Caleb Marchbank has had a horror run of injuries in the last few years, but he has shown that when he is injury free, he can score at a very consistent rate.

From 2016 to 2019, he averaged in the mid 60’s each year, with his average of 69 in 2017 being the standout.

It definitely doesn’t scream “pick me”, but at least you know you’re picking an experienced and consistent scorer as opposed to an un-tested rookie.

After barely playing the last three seasons, he is the cheapest he’s been since his 2015 debut and should see many opportunities off half back this year.

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By no means do I think George Hewett is a bad pick, but the main attraction toward him last year was his DEF status.

Without that, he’s just another average Joe midfielder, except for the fact that you have to cough up $613k for him!

He will still score at an uber consistent rate, but I’m just not sure he’ll be able to repeat what he did last year; especially with Doc now edging his way into the midfield rotation, along with Blake Acres.

At $613k, I think there are much better options elsewhere with a ton of more upside *cough* Tom Mitchell *cough*.

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