Patrick Cripps is ready to lead the Blues back into finals. Image Source: carltonfc.com.au

Carlton co-captain Patrick Cripps is excited about the newfound depth at the club ahead of a new season.

Carlton captain Patrick Cripps is confident that his side can play a quick and exciting brand of football in 2021 as the club seeks to jump up and play finals for the first time since 2013.

Speaking at the annual AFL Captains’ Day, just eight days out from their season opener against Richmond,  Cripps is excited to get stuck into his eighth season and Carlton as he chases his first-ever win against the Tigers.

“I think sometimes you get lost in the grind of pre-season and just churning out the days, but coming today and having the realization that it’s eight days away so we’re excited and ready for it to kick off,” Cripps told The Inner Sanctum.

In the eight years that Cripps has been at Carlton, the Blues skipper has never played in a final but has confidence in the position of the group heading into this season that he can finally taste some September action.

“It’s been a journey so far, a lot of hard work but we feel like that hard work is starting to pay off,” Cripps said

“We’re starting to build a foundation and feel like we have a platform to really attack the season.”

Equipped with elite young talent, a-grade off-season recruits, and a raft of young players growing into the next stage of their careers, Cripps is excited about the talent all across the Blues list.

“There’s probably about eight or nine that I’m really pumped about,” Cripps said.

“You’ve got Zac Fisher, Paddy Dow, Will Setterfield, Samo (Petrevski) Seton, Tom De Koning, Sam Walsh.

“Even some guys pushing up through the VFL like Matthew Cottrell, Luke Parks who we got in this year.

“Matty Kennedy is another one who hasn’t been playing much but we are confident in our depth. We feel like everyone can come in and play a role.”

The Blues rose from 16th in 2019 to finish last season in 11th spot with seven wins with a much-improved percentage,

Cripps said despite the club taking strides forward, there were plenty of lessons to be learned and developed over the off-season.

“When you’re in close games you learn so much. That’s when the pressure is on and that’s when you want to stand up,” he said.

“We learned a lot of lessons last year, developed a few things that we feel will hold us in good stead. Just getting that experience as players.”

“We had a lot of those 22-25 year old’s last year and they’re all getting another year of development that’s going to make them all better from that experience.

“Were excited. We’re in a good spot.”

Carlton will be without its boom free agent signing Zac Williams for the season-opening clash after he was suspended for a late hit during the AAMI Series match against St Kilda.

While Cripps is disappointed that he will have to wait to share the field with Williams, the recruit has made his mark and presence felt at Ikon Park since his arrival.

“It’s disappointing he isn’t going to be out there (on Thursday night) but we’ve been excited with what we have seen,” Cripps said.

“He’s only going to get better when he plays with us more and we’re only going to get better as we get that chemistry in the midfield and keep playing together.

“I think he’ll be ready to put on a show Round 2”

Along with the absence of Williams, the Blues will be without Mitch McGovern for Thursday’s opening round clash with a hamstring injury but are confident of having the key trio of Harry McKay (ankle), Levi Casboult (knee) and Jacob Weitering (knock to hip) will all be right to take their place.

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