Blues high on belief ahead of first big test

AFL Opening Round -  Brisbane v Carlton
Lachie Fogarty (right) says Carlton’s opening round triumph over Brisbane at the Gabba was ‘one of my favourite wins ever’. Picture: Bradley Kanaris / Getty Images

Carlton will be tested against a top eight side for the first time this season on Saturday, but forward Lachie Fogarty says the Blues are still high on belief from their opening round victory over Brisbane.

Fogarty, who leads the competition for tackles inside forward 50 this season, said the Lions victory had been “one of his favourite wins ever”.

The 25-year-old has emerged as a critically important player as Carlton deals with a spate of soft tissue injuries to first-choice forwards, including Jack Martin and David Cuningham.

The Blues have secured two of their three wins against sides expected to miss the finals in Richmond and North Melbourne, but Fogarty said the second-half performance against Brisbane was a demonstration of how “powerful” their game could be.

“That first half probably didn’t look too good … but I remember coming in at halftime and talking to George Hewett and we were both just saying how confident we were that we could still really win that game,” Fogarty told RSN Breakfast.

AFL Rd 1 -  Carlton v Richmond
Unheralded Carlton forward Lachie Fogarty leads the AFL for tackles inside forward 50 this season. Picture: Robert Cianflone / Getty Images

“To respond like that in the third quarter, I guess it shows how powerful our brand of footy can be.

“Everyone was playing their role and doing their job – that was probably one of my favourite wins I have ever been a part of.”

Fogarty described his own job as “unglamorous”, but the former second round pick, who was traded from Geelong at the end of 2020, has cemented himself as a vital player in the front half of the ground under Michael Voss.

“Matt Cottrell last week was talking about how people don’t come to watch the high half-forwards play footy – it’s a lot of unrewarded running and getting up the ground to help defend, and then you’re expected to get (back) in the forward 50 to help score,” he said.

“At Carlton we do a great job I think of recognising those roles … you’ve got a couple of other guys like Matt Owies, Corey Durdin, Raz (Orazio Fantasia) is there now.

“It’s not the most glamorous role, but I think both the coaches and the playing group are recognising the role that those type of guys play.”

AFL Opening Round - Brisbane v Carlton
The Blues are missing a raft of first-choice forwards in David Cuningham (pictured, calf), Jack Martin (hamstring) and Jesse Motlop (hamstring). Picture: Russell Freeman / Getty Images

Fogarty, Fantasia and last week’s debutant Elijah Hollands will be crucial against unbeaten Fremantle on Saturday as the Blues contend with the loss of the in-form Cuningham, who will miss at least two weeks with a calf issue.

Highly rated forwards Martin and Jesse Motlop have also suffered further hamstring setbacks, which puts more responsibility on Fogarty.

Fogarty has held up his end of the bargain so far, with his 10 forward 50 tackles in the opening three games the most of any player in the AFL.

“The main value is my pressure and tackling, trying to keep the ball inside our forward half,” he said.

“That’s probably one of the main stats I’m always looking at … my patterns, how I connect with the defenders, am I helping them defend the ground? It’s not all about the tackles with my role, but the forward 50 pressure and tackles inside forward 50 are probably the two main things for me.”