AFL journalist and radio host Sam McClure has boldly declared Carlton as the clear premiership favourites ahead of the 2024 season. The Blues enter the new campaign with more optimism than they've had for a decade after their incredible run to last year's preliminary final.
Carlton lost by 16 points in the prelim final to Brisbane last September, after winning nail-biting finals matches against Sydney and Melbourne. They began the season slowly, with a 4-1-8 record after Round 13, before going on to win nine straight games to qualify for the finals.
For 2024, the Blues are equal-fourth in premiership odds, tied with GWS. They rate behind 2023 premiers Collingwood, 2023 runners-up Brisbane, and Melbourne who have finished in the top four the last three seasons. But McClure says anyone who doesn't have Carlton as flag favourite is "not following the game right".
"Carlton have to be premiership favourites. And if anyone tries to tell you down the street that they shouldn’t be, they’re not following the game right," McClure said on his 3AW radio show. "They have an excellent list, they’ve got two of the all-time great forwards of the last 20 years and a star-studded midfield."
McClure - a Carlton fan - has high hopes for the upcoming season despite the contenders not making any major moves during the off-season. He says if the Blues don't win in 2024 "something has gone wrong".
"The Carlton Football Club have to go not one better than they went last year, they have to go two better," he said. "If they’re not winning the premiership this year, something has gone wrong.”
Charlie Curnow's sole focus is on winning a flag with Carlton
Carlton's Charlie Curnow has joined the Blues' leadership group for the new season, becoming one of three vice-captains at the club alongside skipper Patrick Cripps. Despite being disappointed in his performance in last year's finals, the dual reigning Coleman medallist has put that behind him and has vowed to make amends in 2024.
"It was a different ball game," Curnow said on Wednesday about 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."
The star forward is positioned to become the first player since Gary Ablett Sr (1993-95) to win three straight Coleman medals but says his only focus is on winning the premiership with Carlton. "Hopefully the flag, that'd be ideal," he said when asked about if he has his sights on a third straight Coleman medal.
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