After accusations of dour, defensive-minded and low-scoring football over the past two seasons, Carlton coach Brendon Bolton says his young Blues are finally ready to show the football world their attacking prowess.
The Blues were the competition’s second lowest scoring team in 2017, kicking only one goal more than Fremantle and averaging a lowly 10.5 goals a game.
While defensive structure will still important moving forward for the Blues, Bolton says to expect a more open and free flowing attacking gameplan from his side this year.
“We don’t want to shy away, not be hard team to play against and lose all the defensive growth we’ve made, but we’ve trained a lot of offensive layers this year,” the Carlton coach told SEN Breakfast.
“I don’t think there is a quick fix in that, but that was always the plan going in to the third year, to start putting in some offensive layers across the group…A lot of it is about territory, where you hit the turnover and how far you can take that ball with an unbroken chain.
“We showed some growth last week. Many blue-baggers would have seen some fast transition from defensive 50 to forward 50, with some really good chains of clean ball movement, but there was quite a few we need to tidy up as well.
“It’s just one little step in the right direction.”
An aspect of Carlton’s new focus on attack could be the emergence of midfielder Patrick Cripps as a part-time forward, similar to Richmond star Brownlow Medallist Dustin Martin’s role at the Tigers.
The 22-year-old kicked two goals for the Blues in their opening JLT Community Series win over St Kilda alongside 20 disposals and five marks.
Bolton says Cripps could spend around 30 per cent of matches inside forward 50 this season.
“By and large he’ll play through the midfield because he is a bull. We’ve got some new guys who can play through there but they probably lack a little bit of experience at this stage,” he said.
“We’d like to probably get somewhere around a 70-30 (midfield-forward split) if I could put a percentage on it.
“It was great to see him get forward. You forget how big he is and he can take a strong mark. If he can hit the scoreboard that will be great for us.”
Listen to Brendon Bolton's chat with Garry Lyon and Tim Watson on SEN Breakfast below: