22/05/2024

Adam Cerra is now a Carlton player. How much does his arrival help the Blues midfield? Image: fremantlefc.com.au

Adam Cerra will call Princes Park home after he got his wish of a trade from Fremantle to Carlton. Just how much will his inclusion help the Blues midfield depth?

It’s a birthday wish too good to be true for Adam Cerra, getting his wish with a move home to Victoria. His move to Carlton was made official today, with Carlton coughing up their first selection in this year’s draft (6) and a future 3rd round pick in exchange for the 22-year-old.

It’s a coup for the Blues as they add what is said to be a Blue-chip talent along to a midfield group which includes Sam Walsh, Patrick Cripps, Paddy Dow, Matthew Kennedy, and new recruit George Hewett, Cerra’s arrival at Princes Park ads much-needed depth, class, and polish to the Blues engine room.

The boost in the square

Cerra’s arrival rounds out the Carlton starting midfield rotation along with Sam Walsh and Patrick Cripps and further adds to the depth of midfielders in Princes Park. In 2021, Cerra averaged 23.1 disposals, up on his career average which has steadily risen every year since he was drafted at pick 5 in the 2017 National draft.

A two-way runner with elite foot skills, Cerra will likely form the partnership with Cripps and Walsh as the starting on-ball rotation, but posses’ the skills to push out onto a wing and deliver the ball inside 50. Potentially rotating with the likes of Sam Walsh for a rest on the wing even. A position that Carlton has been trying to nail down. Cerra averaged 73% disposal efficiency in 2021 along with 2.6 tackles per game. He, along with fellow free agency signing George Hewett will add layers and depth to the Carlton midfield they have been desperately lacking.

In his 4 years, Cerra has finished 3rd in the best and fairest in 2020 and placed 5th in the 2021 best and fairest count for Fremantle. No other player in his draft class, apart from Dockers teammate Andrew Brayshaw has had multiple top 10 finishes in the best and fairest.

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Blues recruiting shift

The acquisition of Cerra is a big win for the Blues on a number of fronts. The obvious one is they secure the services of a young star with his best years ahead of him and he immediately beefs up the midfield. The other points to a shift in recruiting tactics at Carlton in recent years which should only help them bounce under new coach Michael Voss.

While its taken time for the rebuild to take shape at Princes Park, and there have been several roadblocks and hurdles along the way, Cerra’s addition to Carlton’s ranks is building depth from the top as opposed to a previous tactic of building players from the bottom. With both Cerra and Hewett arriving, it means that a new-look midfield group is taking shape.

And it is sure to force a couple of incumbents out of the midfield and either around the ground for greater flexibility or out of the starting side.

It immediately means, one or two of Paddy Dow, Ed Curnow, Matthew Kennedy, Jack Newnes, Lachie Fogarty and Zac Fisher (members of Carlton’s starting midfield and wing rotation in Round 23 2021) can be rotated through other areas of the ground. Ed Curnow finished 2021 in the forward line and was kicking goals and can rotate through. Jack Martin was used in a midfield pinch-hit in his first couple of seasons where now he can properly be that lead-up forward option. Zac Williams can return to his natural and damaging half-back position and play spurts on the midfield, adding to the rotations and depth of the squad. While the battle is on for the other spots in the matchday 23.

What Carlton has lacked in recent times is the quality on the list at the next rung down to adequately challenge and put pressure on the senior midfielders every week for a place in the AFL side.

It’s a welcome change after early years after the re-set where Carlton was recruiting players to its list to play strictly VFL football and play senior AFL football if there was an injury. It’s a move and shift that should help the club move towards its first finals appearance since 2013.

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