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Battered Cripps gets coach’s support

Carlton coach David Teague has jumped to the defence of his battered and bruised captain Patrick Cripps ahead of a must-win showdown with Sydney to keep the Blues’ “unlikely” finals chances alive. Cripps entered last week’s loss to GWS with a knee issue but “put his hand up” to play according to Teague. He returned…

Carlton coach David Teague has jumped to the defence of his battered and bruised captain Patrick Cripps ahead of a must-win showdown with Sydney to keep the Blues’ “unlikely” finals chances alive.

Cripps entered last week’s loss to GWS with a knee issue but “put his hand up” to play according to Teague. He returned just 13 disposals as Carlton surrendered the lead in the final term to move their finals chances to the “mathematical possibility” box.

In 2020 Cripps’ overall numbers are just slightly down on his career averages, but some have pointed to his impact on games not being as great after back-t0-back All Australian seasons in 2018 and 2019.

Teague, however, pointed to his team being better in 2020 and not needing Cripps to carry them on his shoulders as he has done for so much of his career, while his body also took a pounding.

The Carlton coach conceded Cripps wasn’t at his best against the Giants, but he hadn’t asked for a rest and predicted a response in the must-win clash against the Crows.

“If a player says that they need (a rest), then we’ll back them in. Sometimes we might make that call, but with a player like Cripps and with our leadership group … you back them in. If they say they’re right to go, then you generally back them in,” Teague said.

“I think Cripps will have more energy and will be moving better this week than last week. He still played an important role for us last week.

“I understand that we look at the numbers he produced last year compared to this year and people can get caught on that, but from an overall point of view, our team has performed better this year.

“We‘ve been in every game and he’s played an important part in that.”

The Blues are now two games out of the eight with two rounds to go.

But both are winnable, with the Swans next week ahead of the Crows, who have won just a single game all season, to finish.

Teague, however, again maintained his mantra of not talking about finals, only getting better.

“It‘s not something we’ve focused on at all, to be honest. We’ve focused on getting better and improving. We felt that the results would take care of themselves,” he said on Monday.

“At the moment, it’s looking unlikely. But we expect to go out and get better again this weekend. If we do that, and things go our way, then that will take care of itself. But right now, we’re focused on what we can control and how we play.”

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