Blues no AFL stagers: Bolton

Carlton coach Brendon Bolton has moved swiftly to shut down the possibility of staging for free kicks creeping into the AFL club’s culture.

Condemnation for Blaine Boekhorst’s dubious head-duck in Sunday’s heavy loss to Sydney has come from many quarters, the criticism prompting Bolton to address the issue with his squad.

Boekhorst threw his head back as he looked to shrug off an attempted tackle from Dane Rampe late in the fourth quarter, despite no contact above the neck.

For a sport that prides itself on being tough but fair, it appeared to be a moment of simulation and gamesmanship, of which Bolton only became aware of through the media.

“It’s been spoken about. A brief comment. I wouldn’t have thought you’d see it from Carlton players,” he said.

“It hasn’t been a trend in our game. It’s not going to be a trend.

“It’s a one-off for Carlton. A quick comment and move on.”

While declining to say whether he thought the act constituted staging, Bolton did agree it wasn’t worthy of a free kick.

The first-season coach also responded to a Fairfax report linking the club to an off-season move for Tom Mitchell.

The 22-year-old Melbourne-raised midfielder was a strong candidate for three Brownlow Medal votes on Sunday in Sydney’s 60-point win.

Bolton fell well short of ruling out a move for the Swan, out-of-contract at season’s end.

“Right now at the moment I’m more focussed on developing our 46 players. But I will say there’s a mandate at our footy club to explore all options.”

The winless Blues play red-hot Gold Coast on Saturday night in Queensland after the expansion side recorded its first win in Western Australia against Fremantle last Saturday.

“They were really special (against Fremantle) in the centre bounce,” he said.

“We’ll train it today. We’ve got some quality inside mids there that can hold their own.

“We think it’s an area we can improve on really quickly.”

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