AFL 2022: Carlton captain Patrick Cripps avoids September talk

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Patrick Cripps’ form resurgence is a key reason behind Carlton’s success, but the Blues’ captain thinks it’s too early to think about the finals.

Brownlow Medal favourite Patrick Cripps isn’t ready to talk about Carlton making the finals despite the Blues being in the best position through seven rounds in his nine years at the club.

Carlton’s 50-point drubbing of second-from-bottom North Melbourne, which Cripps dubbed its best four-quarter performance, saw Michael Voss’ side improve to 5-2 and climb one spot to sixth.

It took only 11 wins to qualify for September last year, meaning the Blues could be almost halfway to ending their nine-year finals drought – and Cripps playing in the post-season for the first time.

They host 12th-placed Adelaide at Marvel Stadium on Sunday, and seven of their remaining 15 games are against opponents currently outside the top eight.

“I’m not thinking that far ahead yet,” Cripps said.

“It is the best place we’ve been in since I’ve been here and it’s been a lot of hard work over a lot of years to get to this point, but we feel like we’re only scratching the surface of what we can do.

“We will find ways today (at training) to keep getting better and as we keep improving our roles in the system, I feel like we will be in a strong position in the back half of the year.”

Cripps also didn’t buy into whether he was in career-best form, after queries in the past two seasons on whether he would scale his previous heights as he battled injury issues.

Carlton’s captain vowed this year to let his football do the talking after tiring of the relentless coverage about his body struggles – and his stance has not changed.

The 27-year-old is seven votes clear of Melbourne star Clayton Oliver in the AFL Coaches’ Association champion player of the year award after scoring a perfect 10 votes for his effort against the Roos.

Cripps won the Leigh Matthews Trophy as the AFL Players’ Association most valuable player in 2019, which capped consecutive All-Australian selections, so he appears to be all the way back to that form.

“I went and worked really hard in the off-season to get in a really good position to set up my year and had a really good pre-season and built a lot of chemistry with the midfielders,” he said.

“We had a really good pre-season block with the midfield group, so that cohesion is really coming out now and I feel like a lot of us are playing really good footy around the ball and complementing each other in there.

“I want to put the body stuff behind me and keep focusing forward on my footy.

“(But) it’s probably the most positive it’s been since I’ve been at the club, in terms of (me) playing well and winning games.”

Cripps again hailed new coach Voss’ impact in drawing the best out of the playing group, as well as the influence of midfield recruits Adam Cerra and George Hewett.

Originally published as Carlton captain and Brownlow Medal favourite Patrick Cripps relishing Blues’ success but not talking finals yet


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