Scotland confident of making comeback - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Scotland confident of making comeback

By Sam Lienert 17/03/2009 06:07:23 PM Comments (0)

Experienced Carlton midfielder Heath Scotland is confident he will be fit to play Richmond in the opening game of the AFL premiership season despite not having played a pre-season match with the Blues.

The 28-year-old is on the comeback from four off-season operations, one on each hip, another to repair a torn abdominal muscle and groin surgery.

The consistent possession-winner has played two practice games with Carlton's VFL affiliate the Northern Bullants and will play in their intraclub match this weekend.

With other experienced Carlton midfielders Nick Stevens (suspension) and Andrew Carrazzo (broken arm) set to miss the Tigers clash, the Blues will be keen to get Scotland on the park.

But Scotland said coach Brett Ratten was cautious about rushing back players on limited preparation, after the club paid the price for doing so in their opening game last season.

"It's all about making sure the coaching staff have the confidence in my fitness," he said.

"Last year we went into a game with a few blokes underdone and Richmond rolled us, so I know Ratts is keen to make sure we're all right to go and I've just got to prove to him I am."

Scotland said the Richmond match - set to pull an enormous crowd given the interest in former West Coast skippers Chris Judd and Ben Cousins clashing for the first time - would be of "massive" importance to Carlton's season.

He said Ratten had impressed upon the Carlton squad that the way they started the season was likely to determine where they finished it.

"Ratts was talking about a stat the other day, after round seven, round eight last year the final eight was pretty much the same at the end of the season," Scotland said.

"So it's important to get off to a good start, we need to chalk up the wins early to get ourselves into a position to play finals."

In his sixth season with the Blues, the former Collingwood player was confident Carlton were ready to break a finals drought which has lasted since 2001.

"It does really feel like we're right to play and we're ready to go and it's just a matter of getting the season underway so we can tick those wins up," he said.

He said young stars such as Bryce Gibbs, Marc Murphy and Matthew Kreuzer looked set to step up and drive the improvement.

Also on Tuesday, the Blues applied to have rookies Aaron Joseph and Sam Jacobs elevated to their senior list as nominated rookies.

In his third year at Carlton, Jacobs has impressed in the ruck in the pre-season, playing all four matches.

Joseph was Carlton's first selection in last year's rookie draft after spending 2008 with their VFL affiliate club the Northern Bullants.

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