Carlton captain Patrick Cripps is buzzing for the start of the season and the pre-season games have only furthered his hunger. 

Luckily for him - and all Carlton fans - the season is starting earlier than past years due to Opening Round, meaning the 2024 competition is just around the corner. 

Whilst nerves may be swirling for the Blues - eager to pick up where they left off in 2023 against the Lions at the Gabba - they are eager for that first ball to bounce and put their pre-season training into action.

“It’s exciting, you feel like you’re ready for the games to start,” Cripps admitted.  

“There’s always that balance where you’ve had enough of pre-season, you get close to the season and the nerves start kicking in. 


“It’s definitely come up quicker this year and with Opening Round, we’re probably starting two weeks earlier than we usually do — which is great, a lot of us would rather play footy than run laps.”

The final pre-season challenge was the AAMI Community Series match against Melbourne, where Carlton fell by 38 points.

While understanding that wins and losses aren't the primary focus during pre-season matches and instead serve as opportunities to fine-tune their skills, experiment with tactics, and build cohesion as a unit. 

Carlton was rusty out of the gate in the first half, but were able to identify their issues and work on them in the second half.


“I thought [Melbourne’s] pressure was really good, but our shape and the ability to get pressure on them was the growth area at half time,” he said. 

“We felt we weren’t playing with a lot of energy in the first half, but felt like in the second half we played with more of our brand. There are a few things to work on, but that’s what pre-season is for.”

In eight days, the Blues will pack their suitcases and travel to the Gabba – where their season ended last year in the preliminary final. 

It will be the perfect opportunity for Cripps and his Club to test themselves straight off the bat in 2024, facing a formidable opponent that narrowly lost a Grand Final only a few months ago. 


“It’s exciting, we’ve got a lot of respect for [Brisbane],” he said.  

“They didn’t lose [at the Gabba] last year, so what an opportunity to go up there and have a crack at them and see how much we’ve improved. 

“I know it’s going to be a really good game. They play the right way, are a good contest side and have a lot of speed, so we’ll go up there and have a crack.”