Carlton forward Charlie Curnow will play very little if any AFL football this year which must be hard to swallow for an optimistic Carlton fan base.
On Monday night it was revealed that Curnow’s knee injury is far worse than initial reports suggested.
"As we already communicated to our members and supporters last month, Charlie won’t be available for the start of the season," Carlton head of football Brad Lloyd told the Herald Sun.
"This will likely mean a return to the field around the middle of the year."
Publicly the club is aiming for mid-year, but AFL clubs are notorious for underestimating player injury timeframes in order to not panic its supporter base.
I'll be shocked if he’s back in the AFL side before July.
Curnow played only 11 games in 2019 due to injury, yet thought it was a good idea to play basketball in the off-season where he dislocated his already troublesome right knee, which required surgery.
Then, in November, the club said Curnow accidentally slipped on tiles while walking upstairs and sustained a separate fracture to his right patella. The club says the two injuries are unrelated.
What we do know is that the Blues' most talented player will hardly feature this year, due to injuries that have nothing to do with playing football.
Curnow, 23, earns upwards of $800,000 per year.
I have strong opinions on a lot of topics, I’m happy to put myself out there and I’m certainly not always right.
However, I am 100% right on this.
Some of you screamed at me last year when I was adamant that former Port Adelaide captain Ollie Wines should not have been water skiing in January which resulted in him dislocating his shoulder and missing 12 weeks.
AFLPA president Patrick Dangerfield and it CEO Paul Marsh were upset with my criticism of Wines claiming it was unfair and that players need to be able to live life away from the game.
But I am right on this one. Wines' season was ruined as a result of this injury and he himself has admitted he won’t make the same mistake on the water again.
New Carlton coach David Teague, at least publicly, stood by Curnow’s basketball pursuits In November saying: "I see it as living, I've got no issue with it".
"There is a balancing act, I don't want them doing stupid things but they've also got to live. I'm big on them being in a good mental space to perform," said Teague.
I wonder if Teague felt the same way on Tuesday morning when he woke up realising his star forward, a man who kicked 7 goals in Round 13 last year off no preparation and training, will be missing for a large chunk of this year?
Despite the public stance, I know a number of key football staff at Port Adelaide were disappointed with Wines last year, and I’d be shocked if there aren’t some within the walls at Ikon Park that don’t feel the same way about Curnow and his off-field activities.
The Carlton fans who inject thousands of dollars into the Carlton coffers each year have a right to be livid.
The AFL Players Association are wrong to encourage its players to engage in dangerous activities off the field under the guise that they need to live a balanced life.
There are sacrifices that you must make as a highly paid profession athlete. If you want to skydive, snow ski, water ski, be a motor cross riding or a V8 racing car driver that’s fine, but wait until you are 30 and your time in the game is finished.
Curnow has let his club, teammates and supporters down.
Hopefully the rest of the players in the competition learn from his and Wines' mistakes.