Blues coach has high hopes for Warnock - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blues coach has high hopes for Warnock

By Roger Vaughan 27/10/2008 06:13:09 PM Comments (0)

Carlton coach Brett Ratten has high hopes for the AFL club's Project Warnock.

Former Fremantle ruckman Robert Warnock was in a group of 16 first-to third-year players who officially started the Blues' pre-season training at Princes Park.

Warnock is recovering from a shoulder injury and played only 21 games in two seasons before the Blues picked him up in this month's trade week.

But Ratten made it clear he sees Warnock as having a key, long-term future at Carlton.

"We'll just take it easy with Robbie in the first week," Ratten said.

"It's a huge boost - 206cm, he's about the same size as (former Blues great) Justin Madden was.

"To have someone with that presence out in the middle, especially at centre bounces, will be fantastic for us.

"Where we sat with hitouts at centre bounces, we were ranked around 16th - hopefully we can get our hands on the ball a little bit more around the stoppages and make that one of our focuses to really improve.

"Hopefully we can get closer to one than 16 in that area."

The Blues started pre-season work on an outside oval at Princes Park, while the extensive ground redevelopment work continued.

Ratten is pleased with how the younger players have looked after themselves since the Blues ended the season in 11th place.

"Last year I thought we might have come back a little bit not in the correct manner, you could say," he said.

"So far, the boys who have come back have been in tip-top shape - some blokes have had time off and have improved their skinfolds, their weight and I suppose their physical appearance as well.

"Nearly every player has bettered his skinfold or the target set for him, so that's a really big plus for us."

The Blues will decide on Tuesday whether to make any more changes to their list, having already delisted five players, while Jason Saddington has retired.

But Ratten said more changes were unlikely.

He is also looking forward to retired St Kilda legend Robert Harvey starting with the Blues next Monday as a development coach.

"I did say to him when I rang him up - `don't train too well or be too much involved, we might pick you up, see if we can change the veteran rule so you can play one more year with us'," Ratten joked.

"It will be great to have him out with the younger blokes, from that preparation point of view, there's probably none better, he's up there with Craig Bradley in the way they presented themselves and got the most out of themselves."

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