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Mental toughness key for Blues: Ratten

04/05/2011 05:26:32 PM Comments (0)

Coach Brett Ratten senses a new mental toughness is behind Carlton's status as a top-three side.

The Blues, having crashed out in the first week of the finals for the past two years, are third on the AFL ladder.

Victory against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on Monday night would put Carlton on a three-game winning streak heading into the bye.

"I don't think we've been beaten in tackles this year in six rounds," Ratten said on Wednesday.

"When you've played the likes of Collingwood and Sydney, that's a credit to the group.

"In contested ball, we've been a lot more consistent in that area of the game.

"When you look at teams that make the top four or play in finals, that's one area of the game that they're never falling away from.

"This year it has been really encouraging.

"As a group we look a bit more mentally strong and maybe a bit more mature because our list is getting a bit more experience and I think we're minimising the drop-offs in our games."

While skipper Chris Judd gave a stunning performance against the Swans last week at the SCG, Ratten is enthusiastic about the even spread of midfield contributors.

So much so that Brock McLean is struggling to win a promotion.

Ratten says Chris Yarran has recovered from a hamstring injury which kept the small forward out of last week's SCG clash.

"Yarran will come back in for sure. He was extremely close last week," Ratten said.

Ratten said the Blues were looking healthy on the injury front with midfielder Marc Murphy cleared of a shoulder problem.

The Blues faced a massive build-up to their round-seven clash with St Kilda in 2010, when they were attempting to snap a 12-game losing streak against the Saints.

"We hadn't beaten St Kilda for a long time so that (win over the Saints last year) was a confidence-booster for us," Ratten said.

"Really where we sit this year, it's a lot different for us."

Beaten grand finalists in the past two years, the 13th-placed Saints are in danger of missing the finals for the first time since 2007.

Ratten said the Saints were still a star-studded side.

"We don't change our view on St Kilda," Ratten said.

"They're extremely dangerous."

Ratten said St Kilda's inaccuracy, kicking 9.17 (71) to Adelaide's 13.12 (90), was a vital factor in last week's defeat at AAMI Stadium.

The Blues will look to in-form defender Michael Jamison to play on the high-flying Nick Riewoldt, Ratten said.

"This year has been a big plus for him getting a pre-season without any shoulder ops or anything like that," Ratten said.

"He has put four or five kilos on. Now when he's body-ing up he's not getting pushed around.

"He looks really fit and his ball use has been very, very good. He has elevated his position in the team."

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