CARLTON prodigy Charlie Curnow won’t face Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday after all.
The Blues’ dramatic week continued when the club’s star forward was ruled out of the clash with the Demons with a tight quadricep.
Curnow has been replaced by debutant Pat Kerr, the 19-year-old grandson of late club great and former powerbroker Laurie Kerr.
It was just the latest development in what has been a rollercoaster ride for Curnow and his older brother Ed.
Both Curnows faced the Tribunal on charges of making deliberate contact with umpires in separate incidents during Carlton’s ice-breaking win over Essendon last week.
After they escaped with fines, the AFL appealed the verdict and Ed subsequently received a one-match suspension while Charlie remained free to play and was only hit with a fine.
However, Blues coach Brendon Bolton revealed on Saturday morning that his chief forward target had been withdrawn after pulling up sore from training.
"It’s not a significant injury – we’re pretty hopeful it’s only a week," Bolton said.
"But he plays really dynamic footy so we weren’t prepared to take that risk."
Bolton said the Tribunal saga had forced the Blues to consider "a few more what-ifs".
Asked his view on Ed Curnow’s suspension after pleading not guilty, Bolton expressed a balanced opinion.
"Ed’s a big loss for us. I know he’s really strong in character," he said.
"There was no malice in what he did, but we respect the role that we have as an AFL club and AFL players to respect umpires. We also respect the process. We’re now focussed on Melbourne and have moved on."
Bolton was excited about the opportunity presented to second-year key forward Kerr.
"To (parents) Steve and Heather, and Vivienne, his grandmother (and Carlton’s No.1 female ticket-holder), the Kerr family is Carlton through and through, so we’ll probably have a few more thousand people there this week," he said.
"Carlton’s in his blood, it’s in his family. He was just buzzing this morning when I told him."
Pat Kerr (left), pictured winning the 2015 TAC Cup with the Oakleigh Chargers, was taken at pick No.65 in the 2016 draft. (Photo: AFL Media)
A more significant inclusion for the Blues is captain Marc Murphy, who has been missing since round three with a plantar fascia injury.
"Jeez, we’re happy to have Marc Murphy back, our skipper. It just puts a different feel through the group," Bolton said.
"He organises in and around structure and we know what a quality ball user he is."
Bolton said the ruck clash between Blue Matthew Kreuzer and Max Gawn would be pivotal.
"It’s huge," he said. "They've had some really good tussles. We know Gawn’s of the highest quality but so is Kreuzer, so that’s one I think supporters can watch really closely because that’s going to be a key part of this battle."