Carlton caretaker-coach John Barker says he hopes the short-term pain of leaving Chris Yarran out of his AFL side this weekend will yield dividends in the future.
The Blues go into Saturday’s match with Adelaide bolstered by the inclusion of three big players; captain Marc Murphy, Chris Judd and long-term absentee Matthew Kreuzer.
But the absence of Yarran, handed an internal suspension for repeated lateness, has soured the occasion.
On Tuesday morning, Barker ordered the Blues squad into a dawn swim following the 24-year-old’s indiscretions.
On Saturday, the second-game coach said he was willing to forgo the chance to take on the Crows with a full-strength side to make the point.
“We compromise our ability to compete really well this week without him being in,” Barker said.
“But if we don’t stay accountable to a level of standard then we compromise our future and we compromise our ability going forward.
“In terms of his footy he’s been very good for us, in terms of standards … he didn’t quite meet them this week.
“He understands it fully, we had a good discussion about it and it was almost his decision that we stay really accountable.
“He’s an outstanding person … he’ll get that right.”
After earning a three-week ban for punching Essendon’s Paul Chapman earlier in the season, it’s a brain fade Yarran and Carlton can ill afford.
But Kreuzer’s return 15 months after his last AFL game – in round one last year – will be rightfully cheered.
The former No.1 draft pick has proved his fitness after a series of foot injuries by improving each week in three VFL hit-outs.
Barker said he was an “outstanding inclusion” and anticipated any nerves from his long absence would be swiftly dispelled.
“I’m sure he’ll be a little bit anxious but what overcomes anxiousness is effort and attack on the ball and he brings that in spades,” Barker said.
“We don’t expect him to win the game off his own boot but we know he’s going to give strong effort.”
Barker said Kreuzer’s return to rucking duties could benefit emerging forward Levi Casboult.
“That’s going to help no doubt, it helps our mechanics of who goes into the ruck and the ability to keep a tall forward present.”
In Carlton’s first home match since the dumping of Mick Malthouse as senior coach, Barker called for a response from fans after seeing support rapidly dwindle as losses piled up.
“Our supporters and fans and members are really important to us,” he said.
“We’d love to see them there in droves because the football club is about everybody, it’s not any individual.”