It’s the eve of the 2021 AFL season and it will kick off with the traditional clash between Richmond and Carlton.
For Carlton coach David Teague, it’s like Christmas Eve as he prepares for his first Round 1 clash in front of fans since taking over as head coach.
“I’m not going to lie at Christmas time my little fella wakes up at around 5 o’clock or earlier and I woke up early this morning really looking forward to the season,” Teague said.
“To have crowds back and have our fans back in there. It might be a bit of a challenge getting too many Carlton fans in being a Richmond home game. We look forward to be playing in front of them again and feeling their energy.”
The AFL is expected to tick off a 23rd player in the squad as a substitute and Teague said it should be an injury sub, rather than just concussion.
“It’s 22 now but I’m guessing there will be another one, we don’t know exactly right now but I think there will be a sub included our football manager will find that out later today,” he said.
“They’ve added the sub to make it fairer for a team if they lose a player. So why limit it to concussion if someone is injured and out give the other team a chance to add a player.
“I think it will be an injury sub, that’s my feel for it. That is what the coaches originally wanted. I think the media jumped on to the concussion side of things, but I think an injury sub makes I fair for everyone.”
Out of the 22 players lining up for Carlton tomorrow, there will be two men pulling on the navy blue jumper for the first time.
“Fogarty will play, he’s been very good for us. Him and Adam Saad will debut for the Carlton Football club this weekend which is really exciting,” he said.
As for the remaining 20 players set to be named at 6:20 tonight, big names like Eddie Betts, Levi Casboult and Harry McKay need to get through today’s training session.
“Eddie is doing well, he’s put his hand up and has trained hard. We’ll have to see who’s pulled up today and we will finalise it after today’s training,” Teague said.
“All our players got through training on Monday well it’s just going to be how they’ve pulled up whether they’re able to but from all reports so far they’re all looking positive at the moment.”
Looking forward to season 2021, the expectations for Carlton will come from inside the four walls of the club, with the expectation being it can take learnings and grow from 2020.
“The expectation comes from within and we understand that,” he said.
“We’re going to push it and we’re going to drive it. We set the standard high, the way they’ve trained and prepared they’ve set the standard high and now we have to go out and do that in games.
“The close games last year hold us in good stead, we’ve had lots of learning and now we’ve got continue to learn and grow and continue to get better.
“Right now, we’re not there and we’re coming up against Richmond who have been as good as anyone over the last five years. It’s going to be a great challenge and one we look forward to.
“We want to play finals and that’s what this football club is here to do, and we need to get better to do that.
“Right now we need to get better and that is something that we are focusing on. We need to improve we won plenty of quarters, but we had lapses and we’ve got to get better in those moments, and I think we will.
“I have a lot of belief in this playing group and the coaches have a lot of belief and I think the players do.
“Once they really feel it and actually execute out there, I can see us really growing but until we do that it’s going to be a challenge and continue to learn and keep getting better. Right now, we have a lot of belief in this playing group.
“Our focus is Richmond and to play well and play our way and that’s the challenge.”