CARLTON coach David Teague won’t be consumed by thoughts of Thursday’s clash with GWS as “season-defining” even though a loss could see the Blues tumble out of finals consideration.
Star skipper Patrick Cripps will play despite suffering a sore knee after last week’s loss to Collingwood which set Carlton’s path to the finals back a significant step.
Teague has pointed to the last four games of 2020 as more chances to ”get better”, but the numbers say his team would need three wins at a minimum to make the post-season.
Winnable matches against Sydney and Adelaide follow the clash with the Giants at Metricon Stadium, before a final round meeting with premiership contenders Brisbane.
Teague denied the loss to Collingwood burst his team’s balloon for 2020 and said his players had shown a willingness to take every challenge head on, and GWS was just the next one on their path to better.
“This group has been outstanding. We have changed hotels eight times, we’ve changed environments, what we do is, when it’s time to train they step up, they bring the energy. I expect that,” Teague said on Wednesday.
“We’ve said all along we want to get better. We’ve got another four games to get better. We want to win every game for the rest of the year.
“(Finals) is there in the background and you have an understanding. But when it comes to preparing for the game we look at what we can control. We were disappointed last week … we didn’t play with the pressure and intensity required. Hopefully that will get back to the standard.”
Cripps, who had scans on a sore knee earlier this week and defender Jacob Weitering (calf) may go in to the match less than 100 per cent. Teague said he wouldn’t waver leaving them out if they weren’t ready, despite so much being on the line.
But he would also back them in if they put their hand up to play.
“They are both very team first players. If they feel they can get the job done, we’ll back them in,” he said.
The Giants went hard at Fremantle star Nat Fyfe last week, so much so Dockers coach Justin Longmuir called for extra protection for his Brownlow medallist.
Teague had little doubt GWS would put a target on Cripps too.
“We expect it every week, most opposition put a fair bit of time and effort in to Patrick,” he said.
“He’s ready and prepared for it. It’s part of football.”