Carlton coach David Teague has lauded co-captain Patrick Cripps’ response to a week of criticism and flagged the imminent announcement of a new contract for the star midfielder, as the Blues opened their season account with a thumping win over Fremantle.
Cripps, having admitted he is playing through injury, and amid questions about whether the new AFL rules were working against him, had 34 disposals, 11 clearances and kicked two goals as the Blues beat the Dockers by 45 points at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.
But Cripps didn’t need to do it alone, as Sam Walsh (37 disposals) and Lachie Fogarty (25 disposals and a goal) played key roles, while spearhead Harry McKay bagged seven majors. Instead it was Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir who was left to lament a lack of support for young gun Andrew Brayshaw, who was roughed up by the dominant Blues.
Teague spoke glowingly of Cripps, but also of his support acts in the midfield.
“I think Patrick was looking for the contact as much as anyone. He wanted to play a big, strong, powerful leader’s game and I thought he did that really well. In the past we’ve had to rely on Patrick to probably have a great day but going forward you want a really even spread,” Teague said.
“I loved our ability to spread the load.”
And it appears the Blues will be able to call on Cripps to lead the charge for years to come. The West Australian free agent is on the verge of signing a new deal with the Blues, according to club chief executive Cain Liddle.
“We’re working through that process with him and we couldn’t be more comfortable with where that’s at,” Liddle told 3AW on Sunday.
“He’s as invested a player as I’ve ever seen in a football club and I speak for myself and Teaguey and [Carlton football chief] Brad Lloyd, who have worked at multiple clubs. So, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.