When Carlton landed both Adam Saad and Zac Williams in last year’s off-season, the view of quite a number of rival clubs was that they had invested too heavily in running defenders.
The Blues had paid more than $1.4 million for that pair, their purchase predicated somewhat on their hope that Williams, to whom the Giants had offered $700,000 a season over five years, would bolster their area of greatest weakness – the midfield.
Bulldogs tall Lewis Young is a Carlton target.Credit:AFL Photos
Williams did not turn up in great condition and has not yet fulfilled his considerable potential. He is a superb half-back and is in better nick now, but it remains an open question whether he has the running capacity to be more than a part-time midfielder.
In this 2021 off-season, the Blues again are looking to redress the issue of a midfield that was overly reliant on Sam Walsh and a hobbled Patrick Cripps. But this time, they’ve been more price-conscious while also considering three other areas of relative weakness: two-way running, leadership and a developing tall defender.
Adam Cerra will cost them their first draft pick (currently pick no.6, before father-sons Sam Darcy and Nick Daicos are bid upon), as Saad did, and Fremantle want another selection in the second round, outright or via a pick swap.
But the classy Cerra will come at a more than respectable cost in terms of contract – far less than the $700,000-plus that the Dockers had offered. His willingness to play for a moderate contract reflects that he placed greater store in returning home for family (and his partner) than in making maximum dollars. The Blues benefitted, too, from the relative lack of Victorian suitors who had either the salary cap room or necessary draft capital.
George Hewett has been acquired as a free agent from the Swans to provide a defensive element to a midfield that relied excessively on the blue-collar gallantry of Ed Curnow, 32 next month, for defensive grunt. The Blues also wanted Hewett to improve their leadership and provide a harder edge to a group that capitulated too often when challenged.
The purchase of two midfielders, neither of whom has leg speed, means that while Carlton’s midfield is deeper than the one that was carried by the remarkable Walsh this year, it will still have a pace deficit, as Sam Petrevski-Seton, once a prospective outside line-breaker of some promise, exits to West Coast for what is likely to be bargain late pick after a disappointing 2020 and 2021.
Paddy Dow, like Petrevski-Seton, has not played at the level the Blues budgeted on when picking him early four years ago, but as the one who has acceleration (Walsh is a long-distance runner rather than a burster), his importance has been boosted, not diminished, by the influx of two players.
Lochie O’Brien, pick 10 in the same draft as Dow, is without a contract at the time of writing and his future has been murky, but if the Blues make a decision on need, he should survive the cull.
Carlton’s third and final trade period target, Lewis Young, had been deployed by Luke Beveridge’s Bulldogs as a mobile, undersized back-up ruck to support Tim English when the burly Stef Martin wasn’t fit. The Blues, though, have earmarked Young to be a tall defender and back-up for Liam Jones and Jacob Weitering and not as a ruck option – unless, as happened this year, injuries reduce their ruck stocks to the point that Jack Silvagni is taking centre bounces.
Jones has been tremendous value as a key back at Carlton, but he’s 31 by next season and can’t be banked on for much longer.
Carlton’s list manager Nick Austin knows Young from his days at the Bulldogs and, in the best-case scenario, Young would succeed Jones as Weitering’s tall defensive foil.
Every football decision Carlton has made in this period – the removal of David Teague, the appointment of an experienced coach in Michael Voss, and the imminent landing of Cerra and Hewett – reinforces the stated position of president Luke Sayers that they expect to rise and play finals immediately.
A club that trades away consecutive top 10 selections, as the Blues have, can only do so if they feel they’re not far, not simply from making finals, but from vying for the grand final berth that has eluded them since the new millennium brought unprecedented hard times.
AFL trades 2021: Stay across the moves, news and what it all means as our Real Footy newsletter goes daily for trade period. Sign up to get it here.
Most Viewed in Sport
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article