Charlie Curnow is on track to feature in Carlton’s tilt at an unlikely finals berth, provided his form warrants AFL selection.
The Blues struck a double-win on Sunday when Sam Walsh’s brilliance led them to a come-from- behind victory over arch rivals Collingwood at the MCG hours after exciting forward Curnow got through a match simulation session at Ikon Park.
Having not played at AFL level for more than two years because of a run of injuries, Curnow had been due to return via the VFL this weekend before the state league season was again postponed because of a fresh Victorian lockdown.
But Carlton coach David Teague said the fact Curnow had not played a proper game on Sunday would not hurt his comeback.
“They had a bit of match simulation. He looked good, he got out there, he ran around, he was smiling, I think everyone was really happy to see him out there. From a performance point of view he was a little bit rusty. He actually looked really good on ground ball, his ground ball takes were really clean,” Teague said.
“His workloads…we got exactly as we wanted out of it. That will class as what we planned to do this week and we’ll just reassess going forward now, it’s a little bit on how he pulls up and also how he performs. He looked pretty happy at the end of the day.”
Teague maintained that Curnow could yet feature at AFL level this year as the Blues vie to sneak into the eight, having moved to a 7-10 record on Sunday.
“His plan is to work his way back into the team. From a conditioning point of view he’ll be able to do that, it’ll then come down to a form point of view.”
But Teague, whose job security remains shaky amid an ongoing review of the club’s football department and the spectre of Alastair Clarkson’s impending availability, said missing the eight would not be a failure.
“I don’t think it’s a failure,” Teague said.
“It’s about getting better, it’s about connecting, it’s about this group going forward. And I think particularly over these last four or five weeks we’ve seen some growth and we need to continue to grow as a group, and that’s where we’re at right now.
“Yes, this football club want to play finals and we want to play finals every year, but where we’re at, at the moment, I’m really enjoying seeing some of the guys’ individual improvement and then the collectiveness, the cohesion.”
Co-captain Patrick Cripps is likely to return to face bottom side North Melbourne next week after missing Sunday’s win over the Pies through soreness.
“I presume so. It was touch and go. On Thursday he was going to play and then by Friday he just felt that he couldn’t get the job done to the level that he wanted to,” Teague said.
Teague said Walsh (39 disposals and a goal) was magnificent.
“He works as hard as any player I’ve been involved with…he just wills his way.”
Interim Collingwood coach Robert Harvey said “the dam wall broke” in the latter stages of Sunday’s game, in which the Pies coughed up a four-goal second-term lead to lose by 29.
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