- from afl.com.au
CARLTON coach Brendon Bolton says the next part of the Blues’ evolution will include being active at the draft and staying “open-minded” to trading, raising the spectre of a move to lure GWS gun Josh Kelly.
Bolton wouldn’t reveal targets, however, speaking after his side rounded out the home and away season with an 89-point thumping to the Swans, the coach signaled that the club would be very much in the market when opportunities open.
“Without going into specifics, we’re open-minded to trading,” he said.
“Also we’ll go to the draft. That’s been our policy for a long time. That’s all going to happen over the pre-season.”
Carlton football boss Andrew McKay said last month that GWS gun Josh Kelly was a potential target for the Blues if he opted to leave the Giants.
Carlton has become a young outfit during Bolton’s two-year tenure.
“We’re only two years in and we’ve lowered the age profile significantly,” Bolton said.
“We came into this season with 11 teenagers. It’s been well documented - we got our five Rising Stars and one last year.
“I think we’ve won more quarters - some little signs in the last month … that we’ve been moving the ball with some real speed from the defensive 50 to the forward 50.
“That’s another step in the next few years of our evolution, to defend and also move the ball a bit quicker at times. There’s a lot of growth there. We thought our leaders performed really strongly throughout the whole year.”
Bolton praised his team’s effort against the Swans, though they fell away in the second half.
“A really disappointing second half, but we don’t think that the second half was reflective of our season as a whole,” he said.
“This should give this young bunch an understanding and determination to go into pre-season to fight. It gives you a clear vision of what it takes.”
On a night of endings, Bolton paid tribute to the departing Dennis Armfield and director of coaching Neil Craig.
“This year he didn’t play a lot of AFL football,” he said of Armfield.
“And it would have been very easy just to throw the towel in and give up. But, at VFL level, he really helped guide some of our youngsters, and you wouldn’t know he wasn’t playing AFL if you were in our four walls.”
Of Craig, he said: “He’s been a real sounding board for myself. … It’s been an emotional roller-coaster for me.
“I probably now consider him a really good and close friend because he hears it all.
“When you’re a senior coach you have the highs and the lows and everything in between, and I’ve been able to have those discussions (with him).”