CARLTON coach David Teague is confident the uncertainty that swirled around Saturday night’s AFL clash and opponents Essendon has had little, if any, effect on his players.
There were initially fears the round-four match at the MCG would be postponed following Conor McKenna’s positive COVID-19 test.
Then it appeared likely that the Bombers would be forced to field an understrength line-up, with key defensive players in danger of being sent into isolation.
Neither scenario transpired, but Teague didn’t waste any time pondering the possibilities.
“The AFL protocols suggested all along that the game would still go on if something like this happened,” Teague told reporters on Friday.
“We spoke about it early in the week and focused on what we can control and that was preparing well … I think our guys have done that.”
Of more concern for Teague is finding a more even output across four quarters.
In round two the Blues were held scoreless in the first term against Melbourne before a late rally fell short by one point.
Teague’s men jumped out of the blocks against Geelong last week and led by 35 points at three-quarter time before hanging on in a confidence-boosting two- point thriller.
“That’s part of the game at the moment, it’s happening in a lot of games, and the better teams will do it for longer,” Teague replied when asked about the wild fluctuations.
“We want to compete for four quarters and that’s going to be our challenge.
“Right now we’ve got the first contest and the first quarter in front of us and that’s our focus – to start well.
“We learnt a lesson last week that we need to be ‘on’ at the start of games and to make sure that our energy is up.”
Carlton replaced key forward Harry McKay (bruised ribs) with youngster Sam Philp, who will make his AFL debut.
Teague expects McKay will push to return to the line-up to face St Kilda in round five but will need to pass a fitness test.
The Bombers regained Orazio Fantasia from a quad injury and recalled Martin Gleeson, but will be without skipper Dyson Heppell, who will miss most of the season after undergoing surgery on a broken ankle suffered at training.
(C) AAP 2020