CARLTON coach Michael Voss has defended Charlie Curnow's finals series, saying he gets "lost" in the criticism of the Coleman medallist's September performances.
Curnow kicked 81 goals last season, becoming a back-to-back winner of the Coleman Medal in spearheading the Blues' return to the finals.
In those three games – wins over Sydney and Melbourne and a preliminary final defeat to Brisbane – Curnow was held to a goal in each outing, with the 27-year-old having a season-low eight disposals in the loss to the Lions.
The newly appointed co vice-captain of the Blues said last week he "didn't perform as well as what I would like" in the finals, but Voss said his superstar forward was crucial in getting the side that deep, particularly after fellow key forward Harry McKay's concussion against the Swans ruled him out against the Demons.
"I was a bit disappointed with the dialogue about his performances and you can fall into the trap very quickly of buying into that narrative a bit. I just don't buy into it because if you dig deeper into what helped us get into that position in the first place was that we bought into each other and we bought into our unit and getting a job done," Voss told AFL.com.au.
"He was able to do that and for periods of time we didn't have Harry there as well and he was fighting it out really hard and you're playing against the top four defences week after week."
Voss also said Curnow's first taste of finals football would hold him in good stead as the Blues push their ambitions further in 2024.
"For him he clearly gets a lot of attention so it's an opportunity to look at his game and say 'well, OK, what do I need to get better at?' He can't answer that question until he gets out there but that's a pointless conversation because all he can be is the best version of himself tomorrow," he said.
"That's all he gets to do and I love what he did for us. So I get a little bit lost in it all and I think what other people forget, which annoys me a little bit, is that was our first go at it.
"Of course it's not perfect so there's some things we get to work on and learn from, but we tend to think we're throwing out a 25-game finals experienced player and we're not. He might be a little bit older, but it's his first crack at it. We'll take a lot out of it."
Curnow has kicked 145 goals in the past two seasons and would be the first player since Gary Ablett in 1995 to win three straight Coleman medals if he again tops the competition in 2024.
Carlton starts its season against Brisbane in the Opening Round on Friday, March 8 at the Gabba.