AFTER spending the final fortnight of the 2022 season as a bona-fide on-baller, Sam Docherty has continued to explore the possibility of midfield minutes this year.
But, all things considered, he’s keeping his options open.
With Adam Cerra (Round 22) and Sam Walsh (Round 23) joining fellow midfield mainstays George Hewett and Matthew Kennedy on the sidelines in those final weeks, Docherty answered the coach’s call to be thrown into the coalface.
Having played on a wing at stages in previous years with small stints inside, Docherty relished the new responsibility away from his customary half-back role, ranking No.1 in Navy Blue for tackles and inside 50 across those two weeks while also posting the second-most clearances behind Patrick Cripps.
This summer, Docherty - who fits Carlton’s defensive system like a glove - has spent more time than ever training with the midfield group.
“I’ve done most of the training in the midfield, but that was just to add some more flexibility to the team and see where I was best-suited,” Docherty said.
“We’ll wait and see. Me in the midfield has changed up our midfield mix a bit, so it’s whether or not we want to persist with that or head back to the backline.
“There’s still plenty of time to play around with things. We’ve had some good growth from a lot of guys in the backline and hopefully they can stand up.
“We’ll see how it goes.”
One player who won’t be featuring for Carlton across half back will be Zac Williams, with the unfortunate news that he would need surgery on his ACL after the final day of Carlton’s pre-season camp.
Docherty, who has been in Williams’ position before, said that he has been in constant contact with his teammate as a sounding board.
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“He’s in good spirits: i’ve spoken to him a fair bit in the last week,” he said.
“It’s a tough one — it does hit you for six for a few days and you’re wondering ‘why me?’. But he’ll be back a better player and give him a bit of perspective about footy and life.
“You go through so many fluctuating emotions, then now he’s at the back-end of that where he’s feeling ready to get the operation, get himself right and ready and on the road to recovery — it will turn into more determination and motivation to get back out there.”