MATTHEW Cottrell had to wait a little while for his first win in season 2023, but he’s glad they’ve come in a rush since then.
Back in November, the talk around IKON Park was unanimous. When it came to the old-fashioned “who’s flying in pre-season?” question, Cottrell’s name came up regularly and instantly.
But then, a navicular stress fracture halted Cottrell in his tracks, missing 20 weeks of football all up as he looked to build on what was a career-best season last year.
Returning to the senior side in Round 9, Cottrell has played eight of the last nine games (missing one through suspension) and has been a driver of the Blues spreading the scoreboard workload.
That goals return of five in the last three weeks has come with Cottrell playing largely as a high half-forward, as opposed to his customary role on the wing.
“It’s really good, it suits my game. It allows me to get up the ground and back, challenging my opponent with my leg speed,” Cottrell told Carlton Media this week.
“I’m pinch-hitting on the wing as well, which is giving me two different looks.”
With two more goals on the weekend, will Cottrell be putting his head up for a Harry McKay-sized vacancy in the Carlton forward line this week?
“I’ve floated it with ‘Vossy’, let’s see what he says!
“‘SOS’ and Charlie did a really good job after Harry went down. ‘SOS’ was kicking them from everywhere and Charlie was making a contest, which is all you can ask, getting the ball to ground and the mosquito fleet into the game.”
One person who’s not part of that very mosquito fleet is Nic Newman, but it didn’t stop him from pushing forward and kicking a rare goal in the final term.
While Cottrell is never afraid to rip into Newman in particular, he treaded on the side of caution on this occasion — largely given his own celebration antics on the weekend.
“There was a bit of carry-on from him . . . but I can’t really talk, can I?
“Mine could’ve gone pear-shaped: my studs hit the concrete and I almost went A over T.
“[The Carlton fans] were the extra player out there, playing against Port who were flying. It’s good to hear the Carlton supporters cheer us on, it certainly helped us.”