PATRICK Cripps will become Carlton’s sole AFL captain in 2022, as part of a three-player leadership group that will drive the Blues forward under new AFL Senior Coach Michael Voss, who made the announcement to members at Open Training on Saturday.
Entering his fourth-straight season as skipper, the 26-year-old will be closely supported by Jacob Weitering and Sam Walsh, with the pair being elevated to co-vice captains.
Appointed as co-captain alongside Sam Docherty at the end of 2018, Cripps will now assume the full responsibility having been endorsed by his peers, coaching staff and the Club’s Board to remain in the role after Docherty stepped aside from the co-captaincy earlier this month.
With 138 AFL career games, Cripps is now the third most experienced player on the Club’s AFL list in a career that already includes three John Nicholls Medals, two All Australians and an AFLPA MVP.
However it is his unrelenting desire to see his football club succeed as a collective that sees the captaincy credentials of Cripps come to the fore.
Both Weitering and Walsh were inducted into the Blues’ leadership group in 2020 and have thrived in their respective roles as players and as developing leaders over the past two seasons – including both becoming John Nicholls Medallists in that time.
Walsh’s maiden best and fairest triumph followed a fourth-placed finish in the Brownlow medal, as part of a stellar 2021 season that saw the 21-year-old average just shy of 30 disposals, five tackles and five clearances a game – all the while displaying a consistent level of maturity and class well beyond his years.
The emergence of Weitering as one of the premier full backs in the competition has paralleled his rise as a leader at IKON Park, being a driving force in striving to establish consistent and uncompromising elite standards throughout the playing group.
After being affirmed as the Club’s sole AFL captain, Cripps expressed how proud he was to lead the Carlton Football Club.
“It’s been an absolute honour to have held the captaincy alongside Doc for the past three seasons – it’s largely thanks to him that I’ve grown to be the leader I am today,” Cripps said.
“I’m now really looking forward to taking the next step this year under a new team of coaches and alongside Weiters and Walshy.
“The leadership of our group does not stop with just the three of us. We are fortunate to have both established and emerging leaders across every line and our focus this season will be bringing that out in one another – it is a collective responsibility for us to start to earn respect and we’re already putting in a massive amount of work to get that.
AFL Senior Coach Michael Voss lauded the trio’s leadership and said Cripps was undeniably the right person to lead the Navy Blue outfit in 2022.
“Our club has complete belief that Patrick, Jacob and Sam will drive the team that we are striving to be this season,” Voss said.
“Since arriving at the Club, I have seen first-hand the incredible passion Patrick has to bring team success to this football club. Equally, both Jacob and Sam set the standards for work-rate and professionalism and have earned the opportunity to lead as co-vice captains.
“A strong culture is centred around great leadership, we certainly have that in these three players who have a terrific understanding of what is required to drive standards at the elite level.
“I have no doubt as this group builds its connection with one another with the more time we spend together, the responsibility of leadership will be shared right across the board – which we have already started to see great signs of.”