Carlton assistant coach Brent Stanton has sent a warning to the AFL, Blues star Patrick Cripps is going to be back to his best in 2021.
The Carlton co-captain had an indifferent 2020 season, averaging under 20 disposals and six clearances for the first time since his inaugural AFL season.
Cripps had a shoulder reconstruction at the end of the season, but Stanton said he was ahead of his rehabilitation and was putting in the hard yards in the gym so he could return to being the clearance machine he is renowned for.
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“You’re going to see him back to his powerful self and hopefully dominating clearances,” Stanton told RSN radio.
“We want to get him back to his strength and that is his clearance work.
“I think he’s put on a couple more kilos since last year but the most important thing is he’s a very diligent athlete and wants to get better all the time.
“He still tried to be the prominent person who he is in the midfield with his clearances.
“I still think he was No.1 in the competition for centre square clearances. We lost a little bit of that around the field just because he wanted to try and trim down and improve his running.”
Stanton said there was hope the West Australian-product would be fit and available for the Blues’ first pre-season game against Port Adelaide next month.
“He’s ahead of schedule. We’re being quite careful with that,” he said.
“He feels good and he wants to do everything but the medicos and fitness staff are certainly holding him back to a degree.
“He’s going to be right and ready to go hopefully by our first pre-season game.”
Carlton high-performance director Andrew Russell told the club’s website last week Cripps was “basically doing 95 per cent of training now”.
“He’s had a fantastic off-season, he worked hard on his body strength,” he said.
“We tried to make him a bit lighter last year and get his running up, but we’ve gone back to making him strong.”
Cripps is out of contract at the end of the season and is one of the highest restricted free agents.
Last year, former list boss Stephen Silvagni said whilst he believed Cripps was a “Carlton person” there was a chance if the club didn’t play finals that the three-time best and fairest winner could be on the move.