IN WILL Setterfield’s draft year, he earned a reputation as a midfielder who could do it all.
Taking his game to another level at the pointy end of the season, Setterfield was winning clearances, laying tackles and kicking goals as a pure inside midfielder.
After a long journey, he’s beginning to bring that to the table in Navy Blue.
Setterfield’s story at AFL level is often-told, arriving at Ikon Park on the back of an ACL injury. This time 12 months ago, he was saying he felt like it was his first season.
The former Giant was an ever-present under David Teague, having brief stints up forward and down back but mainly featuring across the wing in all 11 games.
However, the last few weeks has seen Setterfield take his place at the coalface — and the results are starting to show.
“I enjoyed playing on the wing under ‘Teaguey’ last year and now I’m trying to find the right balance of wing, midfielder and a bit up forward,” Setterfield said.
“They’re getting confidence in me to throw me inside and get the job done in there and I’m loving it.
“I’m going to keep working hard in training on those areas of my game and earn my stripes inside.”
Stepping up once again.— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) July 6, 2020
Jack Martin was one of our best in our Round 5 clash: watch the best of our No.21.#OwnTheFuture
The three strengths of Setterfield’s underage footy have come to the fore in recent weeks: he laid more tackles than anyone on the ground against Geelong, had the second-most clearances (six) against Essendon and hit the scoreboard with two goals against St Kilda.
Particularly in the last fortnight, it’s clear that the coaching staff has put its faith in the No.43 to provide some grunt.
Setterfield has had 21 centre bounce attendances in the last fortnight: nine more than his entire tally combined since Round 15 last year (12 games collectively).
The 22-year-old credits the faith in his body as a catalyst behind his uptick in form.
“It’s a lot different: coming back from that knee injury, I wasn’t much of an athlete,” he said.
“I feel like a completely different person now and a lot stronger and confident, covering the ground and standing up in tackles.”
Compared to his previous role on the wing - which is difficult to measure purely in kicks, marks and handballs - Setterfield said he was embracing the ability to play multiple roles for the team.
While he has spent a number of minutes as a forward in the Navy Blue, his two goals on the weekend came as a genuine inside midfielder: a string he’s hoping to add to his bow.
“The wing role is a really important one for the team, in terms of covering outlets, getting forward hard as well as with your ball use going forward,” he said.
“Most midfielders or mid-forwards will try and hit the scoreboard every week, so it’s definitely something that was pleasing on Thursday night. I’ve obviously got to keep working on it.”
A recent shift to smaller training groups - brought about by COVID-19 restrictions - has been a positive for Setterfield, who has found himself working closer than ever with Patrick Cripps.
He said the recent work with the co-captain was a key for him in his ongoing development: it’s easy to forget that Setterfield has only 25 senior games to his belt.
“‘Crippa’ has been huge for me, in terms of building my midfield game and my stoppage craft,” he said.
“A lot of other mids like Ed Curnow and ‘Murph’, they’re all part of our group at the Club where we’re working as a tight-knit group and trying to build each other up.”