Play like it's 1999, Blues told - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Play like it's 1999, Blues told

By Adam Cooper 04/04/2008 06:12:17 PM Comments (0)

Although no longer the princes of the AFL, Carlton coach Brett Ratten this week instructed his side to play like it's 1999.

In the lead-up to Saturday night's clash against Essendon at the MCG, the Blues this week got into the spirit of rivalry round by watching highlights of some of the clubs' epic clashes.

And high on the rotation was a favourite for Blues fans, the 1999 preliminary final, when Carlton pipped the Bombers by one point in front of a crowd of over 80,000, thanks to Fraser Brown's inspirational tackle on Dean Wallis in the dying seconds.

"We watched highlights of that game to just try to point out to the guys what it really means to be part of one of these clashes rather than it being just another game for them," said assistant coach Brett Montgomery.

Montgomery said Ratten had put a special emphasis during the week on what it meant to play for Carlton against Essendon, who can both lay claims to being the most successful of the VFL/AFL clubs, as both have won 16 premierships.

Recent games between the Blues and Bombers have thrown up some great contests, with a draw and three games decided by less than two goals among those over the past three seasons.

Montgomery was pretty sure why both sides fought so hard.

"I think the two clubs hate each other and they fight tooth and nail to make sure that every ball is a massive contest and a real scrap," he said.

"Brett has made it a huge focus this week on that rivalry between the two clubs, he has gone back in years and shown footage of the epic games between the two clubs and why there is real rivalry there.

"He's really put something in place based on history."

Montgomery said coaches had to constantly find new ways to keep players motivated, and the proof for Carlton would be whether they could respond from last week's 40-point defeat to St Kilda and snap a 13-game losing streak.

But Ratten's messages clearly hit a chord for his Montgomery, who joined the Blues after last year retiring as a player after stints with the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide.

"Coming from two smaller clubs in the Doggies and Port you don't get a real appreciation for the rivalry," he said.

"You understand it while you're growing up being a football spectator or enthusiast that these games are big, but you don't feel it until you get in the four walls how much it means to them and how much they do hate each other.

"So it's been a real eye opener for me as well."

The Blues planned for Essendon based on the Bombers' form in round one, when they blitzed North Melbourne with their run, rather than last week's capitulation to the rampant Geelong.

Carlton will on Saturday debut No.1 draft pick Matthew Kreuzer, whose high standards have been evident at Blues training.

"When you recruit guys you've got a fair idea what you're getting, but with this guy the No.1 thing he's got rather than marking, his skills or something like that, is his competitiveness," Montgomery said.

"If he brings the competitive edge that we know that he's got, we'll be very pleased."

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