Captain Cripps stands up for Blues in AFL

Jason Phelan

If there were any doubts about Patrick Cripps' ability to lead Carlton, the midfield bull dispelled them with his valiant effort against West Coast.

With captain Marc Murphy sidelined with a foot injury, stand-in skipper Cripps attacked the role with gusto in a brave 10-point AFL loss at the MCG on Saturday.

Cripps carried the added leadership responsibility and the Blues' midfield with aplomb, starring with 34 possessions, eight clearances and 11 tackles.

"It was just an outstanding effort ... he's carrying most of the load on the ball, isn't he," coach Brendon Bolton said of the 23-year-old.

"He's a warrior, he's a soldier ... we love him.

"He's got an appetite to take this club forward, particularly around the midfield and stoppages.

"He invests in the younger guys.

"You've only got to see the growth of (Zac) Fisher ... he's into his second year and has a lot of contested possessions for a little guy. In a lot of ways that's Crippa investing in him."

Coming off an embarrassing 86-point loss to North Melbourne and missing the likes of Matthew Kreuzer, Jacob Weitering and Murphy, the lively performance was a step in the right direction for the winless Blues.

In addition to Cripps and Fisher, Paddy Dow and Sam Petrevski-Seton were among the younger players to catch the eye, while veterans Kade Simpson, Ed Curnow and Dale Thomas were influential.

Blues fans had long called for Harry McKay's inclusion and the young key forward didn't disappoint, kicking four goals.

"We're not satisfied by any stretch, there are some goals we didn't like that we gave up," Bolton said.

"But there were some steps forward.

"We can cast our minds into the future there and see what we're talking about through that game."