CARLTON continues to put Mitch McGovern through his paces in the backline this summer, with the Blues swingman preferred in an intercepting role during match simulation drills at Ikon Park on Friday morning.
A trimmed-down McGovern looked comfortable in his new position, occupying jobs on a series of small forwards where he was granted the freedom to drift off and intercept across half-back.
The former Adelaide recruit played in the hole in front of reigning Coleman Medal winner Harry McKay during the 30-minute match simulation portion of Friday’s session, taking a number of brave intercept marks and positioning himself nicely behind the play.
McGovern’s change of role has been somewhat forced upon new senior coach Michael Voss following the abrupt retirement of veteran Liam Jones last November, with the Blues suddenly light on key position options down back.
McGovern played alongside rookie Oscar McDonald in the backline, with recruit Lewis Young also set to vie for a defensive place this year following his move from the Western Bulldogs during last October’s Continental Tyres AFL Trade Period.
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Star defender Jacob Weitering was absent on Friday due to the AFL’s health and safety protocols, while Caleb Marchbank watched on as he continues his recovery from an ACL injury sustained last April.
David Cuningham (knee), Liam Stocker (syndesmosis), Ed Curnow (calf) and Luke Parks (back) were also sidelined, while a host of players – including Paddy Dow, Sam Docherty and Jack Newnes – were restricted to light duties.
Star forward Charlie Curnow continued to reap the benefits of his first full pre-season on the track since 2019, emerging as one of the session’s standouts following his long-awaited return to senior football late last year.
Curnow, playing on the undersized Brodie Kemp, kicked two goals in the short and sharp match simulation drills but flourished as he continues the long battle to regain his elite athleticism and aerobic capacity.
New recruits George Hewett and Adam Cerra impressed through the midfield, where they were joined by fellow recent onball additions including Zac Fisher and former first-round pick Sam Philp.
Young ruckman Josh Cripps, the brother of captain Patrick, and defender Tyreece Lieu continue to join the club as full-time train-on players in the hope of winning the final spot on its list under pre-season Supplemental Selection Period (SSP) rules.
Carlton is due to play Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Thursday, March 3 as part of the AAMI Community Series, while it has also fixtured a clash against St Kilda in late February as it continues to ramp up its pre-season schedule.