Carlton fans, have no fear – the extra padding around Patrick Cripps’ ribs is nothing more than a precaution.
The Blues’ captain and superstar midfielder sat out the last home-and-away round with soreness and was below his brilliant best in the elimination final win over Sydney.
But coach Michael Voss has declared Cripps “100 per cent fit” to take on Melbourne in Friday night’s do-or-die semi-final at the MCG.
“Don’t worry about the pillow that’s under his jumper. He’s fine, he’s ready to go,” Voss told reporters on Thursday.
“There’s a precautionary measure there to ensure that nothing repeats itself but he’s right to go.”
Cripps had 21 disposals and kicked a goal in last Friday’s elimination final but struggled to hit his usual highs under the close watch of Sydney’s Callum Mills.
It was the 28-year-old Brownlow medallist’s first AFL finals appearance after a decade in the competition.
Cripps’ muscular frame and bullocking style are made for finals football but Voss – a tough-as-nails contributor in the Brisbane Lions’ famous hat-trick of flags – doesn’t expect anything out of the ordinary from his skipper.
“His job is to get his job done and play his role,” Voss said.
“We know at times that will have some brilliance attached to it, but that’s not our expectation.
“The strength of this team has been that a lot of players have been really clear on their roles and we’ve had some individuals that have stepped up that are unheralded in a lot of ways.
“That might not be spoken about externally but it’s certainly spoken about a lot internally. That’s what we’ll continue to value.”
Carlton have won 10 of 11 outings heading into the semi-final yet start underdogs against Melbourne, who were beaten by Collingwood in a qualifying final last week.
The fourth-ranked Demons finished the home-and-away campaign two-and-a-half games clear of the Blues in fifth.
The two sides split a pair of low-scoring encounters one apiece, with Carlton narrow four-point winners in their most recent meeting, in round 22.
“It’s going to take our absolute best to be able to get this job done,” Voss said.
“They’ve shown a level of consistency across the season that says they’re a genuine threat, and they’ve been premiership favourites at different stages.
“We know what we’re walking into and it will take our best to be able to get the job done.”
Both sides have been forced to rejig their line-up, with Carlton recalling Matthew Kennedy and promoting Jesse Motlop from the sub role in a smaller-looking attack.
They replace key forward Harry McKay (concussion) and Jack Martin (suspended).
Melbourne have brought in Adam Tomlinson, James Jordon and Charlie Spargo, with Angus Brayshaw (concussion) and Jacob van Rooyen (suspended) unavailable and Michael Hibberd omitted.