Blues make tweaks after injury onslaught

AFL Rd 1 - Carlton v Richmond
Carlton star Adam Saad returns from a hamstring injury against Gold Coast on Saturday. Picture: Michael Willson / Getty Images

Carlton has made adjustments to its training program in response to an ongoing soft tissue injury crisis but coach Michael Voss is tight-lipped over what the changes are.

Voss said there were short-term and long-term areas of improvement which had been identified from the Blues’ investigation into the spate of injuries in the first half of this season.

As crucial defenders Jacob Weitering (corky) and Adam Saad (hamstring) proved their fitness to face Gold Coast on Saturday, the coach confirmed the Blues had intervened amid a raft of hamstring and calf strains.

Star midfielder Adam Cerra remains sidelined after his second hamstring injury of the season a fortnight ago, while Mitch McGovern, David Cuningham and Jack Martin have all missed games due to soft tissue injuries.

“When we had the soft tissue stuff emerge a number of weeks ago, we obviously got after a few things,” Voss said.

AFL Rd 1 - Carlton v Richmond
Star defender Adam Saad is one of the important Blues struck down by soft tissue injuries this season, but will return on Saturday against Gold Coast. Picture: Michael Willson / Getty Images

“In some ways, we’ve just got to keep training the right things, and keep reinforcing the right things.

“We’re still working through a few things – there are some short-term things and some long-term things that we need to get after. We’ll sort of provide that clarity over a period of time.”

Voss had commented after Carlton’s narrow round 1 win over Richmond that his players may have been fatigued due to an unusually high-intensity training block leading into the first two games.

The Blues decided to trial the harder schedule because of their round 2 bye.

“What we’ve decided to do is probably go to the line hard over the last four weeks, so it probably means we haven’t been as pristine because we’ve trained pretty hard over that point of time,” Voss said in March.

The coach said Weitering, Saad and Lachie Fogarty, who fractured his wrist against Fremantle in April, had all “gone through what they needed to” in order to play along with small forward Jesse Motlop, who will play his first game of the season in the VFL.

Carlton and  Melbourne
Half-forward Lachie Fogarty has played in 14 wins in his last 16 games for the Blues. Oddly, star midfielder Sam Walsh has won only six of his last 17 matches. Picture: Michael Klein

A quirk of Fogarty’s return to the Blues’ side midway through last season is their 14-2 record in his last 16 AFL games, which Voss said was a reflection of the club’s shift towards celebrating their role players.

“It’s a great record. I think it just says the importance of the role (Fogarty has) played over a period of time. He’s tough, clean and hard, and accepts his role,” he said.

“We’ve talked about a lot of the things we’ve built the foundations of this team off … we tend to get seduced by the bigger names in our team and some of our matchwinners.

“Our real shift as a team has come through our role players getting their jobs done and consistently being able to do it.”

Voss indicated the Blues’ midfield would go head-to-head with a star-studded Suns on-ball brigade at Marvel Stadium, with Tom De Koning and Harry McKay to share ruck duties in Marc Pittonet’s absence.

He said the timeline on Pittonet’s return from a repeat finger injury remained uncertain, while the club was also still waiting for more information on Jack Martin after he consulted specialists during the week over his persistent calf issues.