Carlton coach feeling weight of history - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Carlton coach feeling weight of history

By Sam Lienert 23/03/2011 07:32:49 PM Comments (0)

Carlton coach Brett Ratten believes history justifies both Richmond sharing the opening night AFL spotlight with the Blues, and the uncertainty over his own future.

Ratten is one of just four current AFL coaches who have taken their team to the finals for the past two years.

Yet, as he prepares to open the AFL season against the Tigers at the MCG on Thursday night, he acknowledges the Blues hierarchy is right to demand more in the final year of his contract.

"The club's been built on success and demands success and we won't shy away from that," Ratten said.

"That's something the club's been built on, the foundation, so we want to make sure we keep pushing forward as a group.

"We've had two disappointing years, we want to make sure that this year we win a final."

Ratten, a former Blues skipper, premiership player and three-time best and fairest, says narrow losses in elimination finals in the past two seasons have been bitterly disappointing.

Particularly at a club that, level with Essendon on 16 premierships, is the most successful in the VFL/AFL.

It is that sense of history which makes Ratten a firm supporter of the Blues and Tigers continuing to start the season, as they have for the past three years.

Carlton destroyed Richmond in the most recent two season-openers, prompting questions over the Tigers' worthiness of the blockbuster occasion, despite drawing 70,000-plus crowds to the fixture.

But Ratten said the passion between two clubs that have met in six grand finals - four of which Richmond won - and 22 times in finals could not be wiped away by a couple of one-sided encounters.

"That's very unfair. The history between Carlton and Richmond goes back for years and grand finals. It's great to have two traditional Melbourne teams to kick the season off."

And while the Blues' pre-season has been much better than Richmond's, he is not expecting another easy night.

"I expect them to come out snarling.

"The emotion of round one, there's a lot of tension and everyone's been itching to go and it's going to be probably on at the first bounce.

"They'll be coming out right on the front foot, as will we."

While the Tigers want to reverse their recent round one fortunes, they picked a team with an eye firmly on the future.

They named their top three picks from the most recent national draft - Reece Conca, Brad Helbig and Jake Batchelor - to make their AFL debuts.

Former Blue Shaun Grigg will face his old club, with ex-Essendon running player Bachar Houli also to make his Tigers debut.

Carlton also have a different look, including mature-aged recruits Ed Curnow - elevated from the rookie list - and Nick Duigan for AFL debuts, and former Geelong player Jeremy Laidler for his first match in navy blue.

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