BROWNLOW Medal fancy Patrick Cripps nearly missed Carlton's 10-point win over St Kilda with an ear infection.
Cripps started his 100th match slowly, with just four disposals in the first term fighting against a tough Jack Steele tag, but finished off the match 22 touches, six tackles and five clearances.
He needed to pass a fitness test in order to play in the victory.
"I got a call this morning saying he may not play, but I got here, and I think he had all his family from WA over and he couldn't afford to fly them back over next week," coach David Teague said.
"He soldiered on, he was pretty strong in there. He did a fair bit of unselfish stuff for us, we knew they were going to double-team and [we tried] to put him in a position to help the team, not so much his stats sheet. He's a warrior and he found a way today.
"It probably affected his energy levels and how he felt out on the field. But he declared himself right to go, and when you step over the line, we thought he fought hard enough to be valuable for his side."
Teague was full of praise for versatile key Levi Casboult, who was so strong in defence (20 disposals, 10 marks), while opposition coach Brett Ratten said he was best afield.
"He played really well down in the backline halfway through the year, and his form over the whole season – at either end of the ground – has been really good for us," Teague said.
"He just seems to read the flight of the ball really well behind the ball, he's so big and strong and he's got a big engine on him. I thought his game was outstanding."
Fan favourite Dale Thomas announced his retirement this week after being told he would not be offered a contract next season.
He was resolute in defence with 19 disposals and seven rebound 50s.
"It's a hard week for him. He's playing good footy, so I can see him finding it hard, but he understands. That's one of Daisy's strengths, is his intellect, particularly his football intellect, he's super footy-smart, that's one of his strengths. He gets it.
"It's disappointing, but what he does, he gets his job done. Today he had a job to do and he did it again. I thought a couple of moments when the heat was on, his ability to win a contest and find a teammate [was good].
"He's had an outstanding career and I hope next week's a really good one for him also."
Teague revealed this week was "back to basics" at Carlton, after consecutive losses to top-four sides West Coast and Richmond.
"We went back to game one, we tried to strip it back and simplify it. We even dropped 'oppo' (opposition focus), we said it was about us this week and we wanted to play our way and our best footy. We saw glimpses of it, we've got a fair bit to go."
Jacob Weitering was a late withdrawal with a groin injury, but Teague is hoping to have him back next week against Geelong.
"We'll have to wait and see. We won't take any risks with him, he's had a great year, he's been an outstanding player for us. It was right on the minor end, so I'm hoping he will," Teague said.