New Blues leader Curnow puts AFL finals behind him


Carlton spearhead Charlie Curnow has put his underwhelming finals series behind him after being elevated to the Blues' leadership group.

The 27-year-old will be one of three vice-captains at Carlton this year to work alongside skipper Patrick Cripps.

The Blues enter the 2024 campaign with more optimism than they have had for a decade after their extraordinary run to last year's preliminary final.

But Curnow was well below his best in all of Carlton's three finals, kicking a total of three goals and having limited influence across the ground.

But the dual reigning Coleman medallist has not dwelled too much on his disappointing post-season output, vowing to make amends next time around.

"It was a different ball game," Curnow said on Wednesday of his first AFL finals series.

"I didn't perform as well as what I would like to in the end but that's probably the nature of our game, I get to have another crack at it this year. 

"I'm looking forward to playing with our forward line as a unit, and attack hopefully another finals series."

Highly rated since bursting onto the scene in 2017, Curnow dealt with serious injury issues early in his career and didn't play any AFL games between mid-2019 and the end of the 2021 season.

But those issues with his body appear to be behind him after playing in all of Carlton's 48 games over the past two seasons.

The star forward is well placed to become the first AFL player since Gary Ablett Sr (1993-95) to win three-straight Coleman medals.

Curnow said he had not even considered claiming another goal-kicking award until it was mentioned to him.

"Hopefully the flag, that'd be ideal," he said.

Cripps praised the evolution of Curnow, as a player and a leader, insisting he will enliven the leadership group with his energy.

"It's amazing what he's done and what he's achieved in the two years since the long injury lay-off," the 2022 Brownlow medallist said.

"He's infectious, he brings people together and when he talks, people listen."

While buoyed by winning their first finals since 2011, Cripps is far from satisfied by what Carlton achieved during their stunning resurgence at the end of 2023.

"We celebrated the year for what it was because the middle part of the year, compared to where we got to, you've got to celebrate that," Cripps said.

"When you do lose and don't get your end goal there still is that determination to go a few steps further.

"We've got the platform to attack it. We worked that out mid-last year when we're 15th on the ladder, we're lucky this year it's an even playing field."