Blues surprise packet aims for another scalp

AFL Rd 13 - Essendon v Carlton
Carlton coach Michael Voss (left) says the Blues have picked a target for tagger Alex Cincotta to nullify. Picture: Michael Willson / Getty Images

Carlton coach Michael Voss has decided on a target for tagging revelation Alex Cincotta as the Blues look to serve Geelong a piece of its own medicine on Friday night.

After the Cats sent Mark Blicavs and Mark O’Connor to stifle the influence of Patrick Cripps and Sam Walsh in their impressive round 7 win, Voss said Carlton would not hesitate to use its own stopper after Cincotta’s brilliant last month in the new role.

With only 25 senior games under his belt, the mature-age recruit claimed the scalps of star midfielders Touk Miller, Zak Butters and Zach Merrett leading into the Blues’ bye while finding a way to hit the scoreboard with three goals from his last two games.

The 27-year-old could again start at half-forward and tag a Geelong on-baller with Patrick Dangerfield set to return, although other clubs have successfully targeted star interceptor Tom Stewart this season and fellow defender Max Holmes could also warrant attention.

Second-year Blue Alex Cincotta has found his niche as a tagger this month. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

“We have (picked our target), but we just won’t declare the one that we’ve taken. It’s certainly been something that we’ve added into our game that’s been quite useful for us,” Voss said.

“Where we put (Cincotta) – clearly we’ve had a bias to look at a midfielder, and I think we still have that bias within us, but we acknowledge there’s some really important players to Geelong that help them execute the way that they want to be able to play, and certainly (Tom) Stewart is one of those.”

Voss said he was strongly considering a recall for luckless defender Caleb Marchbank, who has been restricted to two senior games in 2024 due to injury and illness.

The coach said the Blues were conscious of Jeremy Cameron’s strong recent form against them, with 14 goals in their past three meetings.

Marchbank’s size and aerobic capacity could make him the preferred match-up for his former GWS teammate, with Brodie Kemp’s spot under pressure.

“(Marchbank) is a genuine possibility, and obviously Cameron has done particularly well against us the last couple of times,” Voss said.

AFL Rd 3 -  North Melbourne v Carlton
Carlton defender Caleb Marchbank could be recalled to play on Geelong star Jeremy Cameron on Friday night according to coach Michael Voss. Picture: Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

“It’s important to try and find even balance in that view because there’s a few other pieces that go really well.

“They’ve got a lot of threats that are forward of the ball, clearly they’ve got scoring power, so we have to keep that in mind.”

Voss said returning pair Marc Pittonet (finger) and David Cuningham (calf) would both “take their turn” in the VFL, while small forward Jesse Motlop was in the frame for his first senior game this season after building match fitness in the reserves.

Orazio Fantasia dealt with a shoulder issue over the bye but was passed fit and expected to take his place in the Blues’ 23 on Friday night.

The second-placed side also prepares to regain Adam Cerra (hamstring) in round 16 against Richmond.

“The fact these guys are coming back, what we hope is it’s creating some internal competition,” Voss said.

“They’re driving each other really hard, and hopefully that means it helps us find the best versions we possibly can of each other.

“They’ve been really supportive of each other, and they’re all locked in on the same goal and that’s to make us better.”

Both the Carlton AFL and AFLW playing lists came together on Thursday at Ikon Park to mark this week’s Carlton Respects round.

The Blues are aiming to raise $200,000 to deliver its school program Road to Respect to more grades three to six students to promote gender equality and healthy attitudes towards women.