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10:19am  Oct 23, 2017

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9:35am  Oct 23, 2017

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Simpson commits for 2018

Nick Bowen for AFL.com.au  September 25, 2017 10:45 AM

The Journey | S2E7 Season 2 | Episode 7. In the final episode of Season 2 of The Journey, go behind-the-scenes as Carlton wrap up the 2017 season.

Kade Simpson will get the chance to become just the fifth Blue to play 300 games after re-signing for 2018, one of five contract extensions announced by Carlton at its best and fairest count.

Blues president Mark LoGiudice announced Simpson's new one-year deal on Friday night, along with extensions for Sam Docherty (2020), Jack Silvagni (2019), Jed Lamb and Dale Thomas (both 2018).

Docherty and Silvagni were already contracted for 2018, so re-signed for two years and one year respectively.

Simpson will now stretch his illustrious career into a 16th season, having been drafted at pick No.45 in the 2002 national draft, the year when Carlton was stripped of, among other things, picks No.1 and No.2 for salary cap breaches.

Fifteen years later, Simpson sits sixth on Carlton's all-time games list on 286, one shy of Justin Madden and 14 short of joining Blues greats Craig Bradley (375), Bruce Doull (356), John Nicholls (328) and Stephen Silvagni (312) in the 300-game club.

 

Simpson, 33, told AFL.com.au trying to reach the rare milestone was not a driving factor in his decision to play on.

"I wanted to play on because I feel like I've still got plenty to offer and I'm still not really satisfied with my career. I still don't think I've had team success and that's what everyone's after," Simpson said.

"(Reaching 300 games) does get brought up by other people, and that's when it does cross your mind.

"Obviously, if you look back on your career and see your name sitting alongside four of the absolute legends of the footy club, you're going to be pretty chuffed."

There will be one negative for Simpson, however, if he becomes the fifth 300-game Blue. 

"I remember my 250th a year and a half ago and that was one of the worst weeks of footy I've been through. The amount of media attention and other stuff that I copped was tough – it's not my go – so I'll probably be dreading my 300th if I do get to it," he says with a laugh.

Simpson enjoyed another strong season in 2017.

Playing all 22 games, he averaged 24 possessions at 75 per cent efficiency and finished second at Carlton for rebound 50s (83) and running bounces (21), third for inside 50s (60) and fifth for goal assists (11).

His body also showed no signs the AFL grind was catching up with it.

"All of my GPS numbers were good, I was playing a high amount of game time, I got a lot of training in and I haven't had any surgery at the end of the year, so I'll be ready to go for the pre-season from day one," he says.

Simpson's re-signing not only means Carlton retains one of its most consistent performers, it also retains one of its most influential leaders.

The 2013 John Nicholls Medal winner has been Carlton vice-captain in coach Brendon Bolton's two seasons at the club, and has relished working with the Blues' raft of promising youngsters.

"When Bolts came in, I really took on a bit of a mentor role. It's something I probably didn't see myself doing but the last two years I've really enjoyed it," Simpson says.

"Even after footy I'd now like to stay in a role in that sort of position."

As for the team success he craves, Simpson knows time is not on his side. But he remains hopeful.

"You are going to get the same performances from Sam Docherty, Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs and those guys, but the real growth will come from the kids," he says.

"It's sort of hard to put a number on what we can do next year because you don't know how much they are going to jump.

"But if guys like Charlie Curnow and Jacob Weitering can keep improving at the rate they are, I'm really optimistic."