Carlton coach Michael Voss expects his players to “thrive” in the club’s first final in a decade, with captain Patrick Cripps set to return but star wingman Blake Acres is in a race against time to be fit after hurting his shoulder in Sunday’s final-round loss to GWS.
Cripps missed the game with a rib issue but will be back in a fortnight’s time for the elimination final against Sydney at the MCG where Voss said his team would bring the game style that he said was built to stand up on the biggest stage.
Despite being overrun by the Giants, who needed to win to play finals, having taken the scalps of premiership contenders Collingwood, Port Adelaide and Melbourne in the process, Voss was confident his team was good enough to win finals.
“We don’t pretend to think that we’ve got a game style that’s going to win every single game, what we’re trying to build is a system that will stand up in big moments and in big finals,” he said.
“We feel like we’ve made massive inroads into that particular part of our game.
“To come into the game (against GWS) and know that we had a (finals) position locked away, and we had a home final, it’s a significant achievement from where we were to where we are.
“It’s hard not to be in this position and acknowledge the journey they (Carlton fans) have been on over such a long period of time.
“I understand that there’s been a lot of disappointment and there’s been a lot of frustration over a long period of time.
“They’ve really stuck at it, we’ve had a fair journey together this year, so to be able to go out there, play an elimination final, put our best on show and be able to pack out the MCG will just be a great moment and we’re looking forward to thrive in it.”
Carlton has completed a spectacular turnaround in the second half of the year, with a nine-game winning streak dragging them out of the bottom four in round 15 all the way up to fifth on the ladder.
But Voss has noticed a slip in standards over the past two games, with a narrow win over Gold Coast backed up with a convincing loss to GWS.
“The defence and our ability to defend the turnover was pretty poor today, and it was poor last week as well,” he said.
“We dodged one last week (against Gold Coast) and we didn’t dodge one today, but we’ve got the feedback we need to just make sure that we correct it and put it back into place when we come into our first final.”
Carlton is excited to test themselves against the best teams over the next month if they’re good enough to keep winning, according to Voss.
Acres has been one of the Blues‘ most consistent performers this year, missing just one game and averaging 23 disposals (eight contested) and six marks.
But he had to be subbed out early in the third quarter of Carlton’s 32-point loss to GWS on Sunday night at Marvel Stadium after suffering a shoulder injury.
“The early indication might not be great, but we’ll just assess that and hopefully get all the results by Tuesday,” Voss said.
Originally published as Carlton’s game style made to win finals according to coach Michael Voss