AFL Carlton Blues captain Patrick Cripps ready to deliver under Michael Voss

Patrick Cripps is under his fifth head coach at Carlton and his third as Blues skipper. Since being drafted under manager Mick Malthouse in 2013, the 26-year-old has seen Malthouse, John Barker (albeit briefly), Brendon Bolton and David Teague come and go, with Michael Voss now at the helm at the helm. approaching the 2022 season.

For a club that contested and won a final in the season before their draft, the Blues have coughed and stammered through a painstaking and at times frustrating rebuild that, since the 2015 offseason under Bolton, has yet to grow. the fruits of the labors have endured.

For Cripps, now well and truly a veteran of Carlton’s midfield group, it’s been a frustrating journey, but he knows football was never meant to be easy, and as the club’s leader he has been very impressed with what Voss, now in his second role as head coach, has brought to the group.

“You have to keep adapting to the situation you’re in,” Cripps told ESPN, referring to the coaching rounds he faced at Ikon Park. “Vossy is in charge now and he has a certain way of dealing with it and we fell behind him.”

There is pressure on Voss to perform right out of the blocks. He was not brought in to reshape, retool and reconfigure the team for a long term perspective. As Cripps puts it, he’s there to “maximize team strengths” for tilt in the Finals and beyond.

During the offseason, the Blues cleaned up the decks and brought a fresh look to the wider coaching panel; Aaron Hamill and Tim Clarke returned to the fold after many years, and former West Coast forward Ashley Hanson, who has been highly regarded for nearly a decade at the Whitten Oval in the Bulldogs system. Former Voss teammate Luke Power is also leading development.

Cripps said Voss and the new panel of assistants worked hard to bring in new ideas and look at the playlist in a different light.

“We had a very good pre-season under him in terms of the playing model. Him and the other coaches, they all put together some ideas to come up with a playing model that maximizes the strengths of the team,” he said. he told ESPN.

“Because we have a new group of coaches, we have a lot of new ideas from different systems, so you try to get the best out of everyone and figure out what you think will work best for us and the group. of players.”

It’s already evident too, albeit in a small sample. According to Champion Data, in their AAMI Community Series game against the Demons, Carlton put more emphasis on saves. With Cripps, Adam Cerra, Ed Curnow and Matthew Kennedy being the big bodies in the middle, the Blues won the clearances 49-26. Tellingly, their clearances have been tweaked, with the Blues coming out of saves by handball 59.2% of the time (ranked 4th at the weekend) compared to last year’s average of 48.8% (ranked 11th). No wonder they were the best team for points scored in stoppage time (49).

Moreover, in 2021, the Blues have averaged 129 handballs per game (ranked 16th) while this pre-season that number has risen to 198 against Melbourne (ranked 2nd).

Voss himself told SEN last week that the arrival of midfielders like George Hewett from Sydney and Cerra from the Dockers has helped balance a cohort that has at times been criticized as a one-sided team. Voss said they “pay attention to the defensive side of the game, especially the transition.”

Cripps also pointed out how easy it was to form a relationship with Voss when he left Alberton, under Ken Hinkley, in September last year.

“It’s still early days, but we’ve had a lot of conversations. We hop on the phone when we need to, or I chat with him on the track or in the office – he’s an easy going guy, he’s so easy who to talk to if anything last minute I’ll just give him a ring on the way home It’s still early we’re only four or five months old but he’s a guy he’s been with is easy to form a relationship.

And the similarities between the captain and his new coach are also easy to see. Voss was an uncompromising, uncompromising midfielder and leader, and someone who steered the Lions to a hat-trick, something Cripps nurtured heading into the first round.

“You always ask a lot of questions about when he played, and especially given the successful era he played in – we also have Luke Power who played under him – you always try to pick his brains,” Cripps said.

“But what I kind of see is how well he leads, manages people and allows people around him to excel in their role. He gives people around him a lot of confidence to do his job. – it is really impressive.”

And given that Voss was tasked with overseeing a Power midfielder who advanced to two consecutive preliminary final berths – and handed a Brownlow medal to Ollie Wines – it was a point of interest for Cripps, given the similarities of physics and style of play he shares with Wines – not that a fairest league and best reward is in mind.

“[I’ve] Probably [been more interested in] how good is this [Port’s] midfielder was there, and what they did, and how can we incorporate some of those things into the way we play,” Cripps said.

“As I said before, it’s about how we can maximize the people we have, not just in midfield, but all over the pitch. [Voss has] done a good job so far.”

But Cripps understands the pressure on the coach. Even one more year without a Finals berth will raise eyebrows considering the talent amassed on the roster over the past six seasons. But the group of players, says the skipper, have the coach’s back.

“It’s constant communication, working together to control the vibe, vibe and culture of the place. The place has a good feeling about it. We already have a lot of confidence in what we’ve done. “, Cripps told ESPN. .

“At the same time, we’ve talked a lot over the last few years, so we’re looking forward to getting out there, playing on the right foot and winning the right. [to play finals] and respect for the model.”

Carlton, who hasn’t won a Round 1 game since 2012, will face Richmond on March 17 at the MCG.

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