MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 18: Tom De Koning of the Blues celebrates a goal during the 2023 AFL Round 14 match between the Carlton Blues and the Gold Coast Suns at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 18, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Carlton coach Michael Voss is hoping his ruck duo will be seen as an equally-threatening tandem when they face Melbourne's All-Australian-calibre formation of Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy.

Saturday night's encounter between the Blues and Demons presents as a mouth-watering matchup between two in-form sides, with Voss looking to extend his side's undefeated run to eight games while Melbourne has welcomed back two stars of the competition for the affair.

Four-time best and fairest winner Clayton Oliver has been named to make his return after 11 weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring strain, while Grundy has been recalled after a month out of the side to work on his forward craft.

The former Magpie will link up with Gawn once again to give Blues duo Marc Pittonet and Tom De Koning plenty of headaches in the middle of the field.

De Koning has reached new heights as a ruck-forward option for Voss in recent weeks, while Pittonet's return over the past fortnight has further sharpened Carlton's ability to gain first-use and help extend their winning run.

The battle against two of the competition's premier ruckmen shapes as an enticing challenge for the emerging De Koning, who recently turned down high-priced rival offers to extend his career at Princes Park until the end of the 2025 season.

While admitting the matchup firms as a critical one for the De Koning, Voss said he hopes his pair of talls enter the clash with the same energy and hunger as any other game.

"I wouldn't hope it's any bigger than any week (De Koning) plays," Voss told reporters on Friday. "We've got the game in front of us.

"We're in really good form and he's playing against some really good opposition. So it's a big week for Tom and for 'Pitto'. They've formed a really good combination.

(L-R): Carlton's Tom De Koning, Mitch McGovern, Sam Durdin and Alex Mirkov during the 2023 AFL pre-season (Image: Carlton FC Twitter)

"To have 'Pitto' back and Tom able to come in as well, we hope that presents a slight threat back to the opposition.

"We know we're up against two good rucks this week, so they know the challenge ahead of them. It's going to be a big one."

The retention of De Koning was a substantial outcome for the Blues' premiership plans for the coming years, with several circling clubs having hoped to pry the Mt Martha junior from Carlton.

The Blues' list plans have turned to fellow key-position talent Mitch McGovern, who is said to have sorted his future for the coming years with the Blues, per multiple reports.

Voss played a straight bat when questioned on the contract news, stating each deal will be completed at the appropriate time.

"We're still working through those," the Blues coach said.

"Contracts have been working their way through over the last little while. Hopefully, some of those get worked out soon enough.

LAUNCESTON, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 28: Mitch McGovern of the Blues celebrates after scoring a goal during the round 6 AFL match between Hawthorn and Carlton at University of Tasmania Stadium on April 28, 2019 in Launceston, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

"If it means it takes until the end of the year before it gets done then it gets done that way."

A win against Melbourne on Saturday night will almost guarantee a return to finals for the Blues, who are scheduled to face Gold Coast and GWS in the final two rounds of the season.

 2023-08-12T09:30:00Z 
Carlton WON BY 4 POINTS
MCG
CARL   
60
FT
56
   MELB