Blues tall Charlie Curnow was a shining light during Carlton's match simulation on Friday morning, with the athletic forward booting two goals and collecting plenty of the footy as he attacks his first full pre-season in two years.
Curnow was back to his athletic best as he covered ground receiving the ball as high as the wing before crashing packs deep forward and hitting the scoreboard. The 24-year-old was willing to throw his body at anything he could seemingly enjoying the feeling of bodies crashing into his own.
In a session where physicality and pressure were the main areas of focus for Michael Voss and his team, Curnow was one of two key forwards with Coleman Medalist Harry McKay during the gameplay scenarios.
Curnow returned late last year after recurring knee issues forced him to miss around two years of footy. He was rusty upon his return but looks to have rediscovered some of the class and touch that had Carlton fans so excited.
There was a lot of space for Curnow and McKay to operate in with the much-maligned and criticised Mitch McGovern playing a defensive role.
McGovern, looking trimmed down, played as an intercept defender while lining up against predominantly smaller opponents. His ball use and speed were a feature as the 27-year-old rebounded from defence on multiple occasions to set up counter-attacking opportunities.
With no Jacob Weitering (AFL Health and Safety Protocols), McGovern shone in defence as the designated intercept defender. A role Carlton need to fill after Liam Jones' retirement.
David Cuningham (knee), Liam Stocker (syndesmosis), Ed Curnow (calf) and Luke Parks (back), Paddy Dow, Sam Docherty and Jack Newnes were also absent from the match practice and restricted to running laps.
Another absentee from the main group was defender Caleb Marchbank who is on the comeback trail from an ACL injury. Marchbank hasn't featured for the Blues since 2019 and could be another piece to the puzzle in Carlton's new-look defence.
Coach Michael Voss was very vocal at training as fans watched on for the first time this year with an emphasis on making sure his team set up defensively when they had won possession back.
Carlton last year seemed to play a slingshot brand that was all guns blazing when going forward but meant that they were horribly exposed on turnover. This is a trap Voss seems keen to avoid in 2022.
Another maligned Carlton recruit was seen plying his trade down back with Zac Williams playing halfback and training with the defensive group throughout the gruelling session.
Williams was recruited to add to the Blues' midfield but that experiment seems to be over with the lethal ball user set to return to the position he has played his best footy.
Carlton takes on Melbourne on Thursday, March 3rd at Marvel Stadium in their AAMI Community Series match before taking on the Tigers in Round one.