Carlton coach David Teague insists he is the right man to lead the Blues but understands if club powerbrokers reach out to Alastair Clarkson.
Teague, contracted until the end of 2022, enhanced his hopes of fulfilling that deal by guiding the Blues to a 31-point win over a disappointing St Kilda behind closed doors at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.
Carlton coach David Teague addresses his players against the Saints.Credit:AFL Photos
The win was the Blues’ fourth in their past six matches, ensuring they remain in touch with the top eight, and came on a day when Clarkson, the four-time Hawthorn premiership coach, confirmed he would leave the club at the end of the season.
Clarkson is weighing up his next move, which could be the vacant Collingwood job, or even heading to the Blues, should incoming president Luke Sayers declare it’s time for change at Princes Park.
Teague said he could understand if Clarkson was sounded out.
“I would understand them wanting to, because he has been a great coach for a long time, but I am going to back myself in,” Teague said.
“I think, like I said, we have good people here and I think the direction we are going and what we are doing here … in terms of do I think I am right person, if that’s what you are asking, I think I am the right person to keep going forward with this footy club.”
Teague, who replaced Brendon Bolton during the 2019 season, said he would not seek assurances from the club about his future.
“I have got confidence in what I am doing and what we are doing as a group and a collective,” he said.
Teague said he did not have any inclination about what had been documented in the wide-ranging, externally-conducted report into the club’s football department, which is likely to have a major impact on his future.
Charlie Curnow (centre) was all smiles in his return to action with the Blues.Credit:AFL Photos
The Blues were able to rebound from a stinging loss to the bottom-placed North Melbourne by scoring 112 points against the Saints, their second-highest score of the season, at a season-high 77 per cent scoring accuracy, and their third-best pressure count of 194. The latter was the result of a robust one-on-one defence, an area the Blues have repeatedly struggled in this year.
This victory ensures they remain an outside chance of making the finals with three matches remaining.
Teague praised the undersized Jack Silvagni, who was forced to ruck for three quarters after a pectoral injury to Tom De Koning. While Saints talls Rowan Marshall and Paul Hunter dominated the hit outs, Silvagni had 25 disposals and was influential around the ground.
Harry McKay, returning from a toe injury, booted five goals and stretched his lead in the Coleman Medal race.
Charlie Curnow booted a 55-metre goal with his first touch in a senior game in more than two years and finished with eight disposals. Importantly, he emerged unscathed after repeated knee issues.
“It was great to see him out there, even late he was rallying the group,” Teague said.
Sam Walsh was superb with 26 disposals – he has been the No.1 rated player over the past month – and strengthened his claims for the Brownlow Medal. He later said last week’s loss to the Kangaroos had been “pretty shocking”.
The Blues now prepare to face the Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium next Saturday.
Saints great Nick Riewoldt maintained there is a “fragility” within his former team, on a night their ball use was poor.
“We were into the low 60 (per cent), that is not good enough,” coach Brett Ratten said, adding the dominance his rucks had through the hit outs was not reflected in the clearances.
Hunter Clark, in his first match back since breaking his jaw in a clash with Adelaide’s David Mackay, had a head clash with Matthew Owies in the final term and finished on the bench with concussion. Teammates rallied around him after the match.
Paddy Ryder (Achilles soreness) was a late withdrawal, while Dougal Howard (hamstring) will miss at least a fortnight.
The Saints would have been in the top eight – at least for a night – had they won, but now must win their final three matches to have any chance of returning to September action.
“The stakes for us were a lot higher and we didn’t deliver,” Ratten said.
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