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Growing Cripps ready to become a bigger headache for opposition midfields

Cripps backs Murphy in as Carlton skipper Carlton midfielder Patrick Cripps speaks to the media after re-signing with the club
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 13: Patrick Cripps of the Blues in action during the Carlton Blues training session at Ikon Park, Melbourne on January 13, 2016. (Photo: Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Emerging midfielder Patrick Cripps at Carlton training last month
I think the way I play and the team structure, it won't really matter if I get more attention or not
Patrick Cripps

LAST year, Carlton young gun Patrick Cripps emerged as one of the competition's best big-bodied midfielders.

This pre-season, he has become a more imposing figure.

On Friday, the Blues' 2015 best and fairest winner revealed he had grown another centimetre over the off-season and now measured in at 194cm.

He has also gained 2kg this summer, weighing in at 92kg.

Considering the 20-year-old was 190cm and 88kg when he was selected by the Blues at pick No.13 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, it has been big jump in two seasons.

To put it in context, Cripps is bigger than Fremantle's midfield stars Nat Fyfe (190cm, 91kg), and David Mundy (192cm, 89kg).

He is also taller than Western Bulldogs young gun Marcus Bontempelli (192cm).

Incredibly, Cripps has also shot past several key forwards, notably Fremantle spearhead Matthew Pavlich (192cm) and St Kilda skipper Nick Riewoldt (193cm).

Last season, Cripps was ranked No.1 at Carlton for contested possessions, clearances and handballs per game.

He was also the fifth best player in the League for hardball gets.

Cripps' extra size should help elevate his contested game even further in 2016, and create headaches for opposition coaches as they try to find a suitable match-up.

However, the newly re-signed Blue isn't worried about receiving more attention from opponents.

"I think the way I play and the team structure, it won't really matter if I get more attention or not," Cripps said.

"I'll just keep playing my role, but if the attention does come then I'm sure we'll come up with other ways to help the team win."

On Thursday, Cripps signed a two-year contract extension.

The West Australian said he wasn’t tempted to return to his home state to play for Fremantle or West Coast.

"It was an easy decision and I was rapt to get the deal done,” Cripps said.

"Obviously I’m happy with where the club is heading so when 'SOS' (list manager Stephen Silvagni) came to me, I was happy to sign on.

"I’ve got terrific family support and the club has been fantastic down here. I love playing for the Blues so there was no go-home factor at all."

The new deal will keep Cripps in the navy blue until the end of 2019. 

On Friday, Carlton's playing group participated in some match simulation at Ikon Park.

Cripps did not join his teammates following a heavy training load earlier in the week.

Marc Murphy was also absent from the session as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury but has returned to full training. 

Carlton’s first NAB Challenge match is on February 18 against premiers Hawthorn at Aurora Stadium.