AFL news 2023: Blues training, Sam Walsh, Jacob Weitering and Jack Martin absent

Blues fans were heartened to see Sam Walsh on track for pre-season training but a pair of stars was missing from the session.

It was a promising turn out from the Blues faithful at the Princes Park and fans caught a glimpse of a promising sign for one of their biggest stars.

However, there was an injury setback for an injury-riddled defender and two key Blues were notable absentees.

Jay Clark was there to bring you all the major talking points as the 2023 season approaches.


There were encouraging signs for superstar midfielder Sam Walsh who completed light running in his return from back surgery last month.

Walsh, who is one of the Blues’ most important players, ran at half pace around the boundary line at Ikon Park on Wednesday in a clear step forward for the tireless midfielder.

But there has been a fresh setback for defender Lewis Young who has been sidelined with a minor ankle injury.

Young, who is set to play a key role down back this year, tweaked his ankle at training earlier in the week and is expected to rejoin the main group in the next week or two.

The Blues have a decent-sized injury list with Walsh forced to undergo surgery on his back late last year after an injury forced him to miss the crushing Round 23 loss to Collingwood.

The club was hopeful rest would allow him to fully recover over summer, but a decision was made to send him under the knife after it failed to progress after time off in September – November.

But Walsh’s return to light running on Wednesday shows his condition has improved following the procedure, although it remains unclear when he will be fit to fit to play.

Walsh, 22, has one of the biggest engines in the game so he is unlikely to need much conditioning work once the pain and restriction in his back subside.

In any case, the Blues will take no risks with the matchwinner who will be hoping to rejoin teammates in the senior side in the early part of the season.


It was a light session overall for the Blues who had only 22 players participate in a low-key competitive ball movement drill using less than half the ground to finish the day.

Encouragingly, George Hewett and Patrick Cripps took part in the competitive component after a tough end to last season for Hewett due to a back problem.

The Blues missed Hewett’s hardness in the middle after a strong start to the season last year helping support and protect Cripps, Walsh and Adam Cerra in the engine room.

Superstar forwards Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay sat out the ball movement drill and completed some goal kicking in wet conditions late.

Star young tall Tom De Koning only completed the early part of the session before heading in, while hard nut midfielder Matthew Kennedy was another who finished up early.

Early on, the Blues completed some slow-play kick-mark drills from half back to half forward targeting the areas about 10 metres inside the boundary line.

Hard-running new Blue Blake Acres will play a key role for the Blues on the wing this year in place of Will Setterfield and went through his paces on Wednesday.

He trained alongside fellow midfield playmakers Lochie O’Brien and Paddy Dow, who faces a fight to break back into the best 22 this year.


Defenders Mitch McGovern and Zac Williams both finished the session running laps as part of a modified training program for the duo.

Williams and McGovern both endured significantly-interrupted campaigns in 2022 and will be eyeing important seasons after making big-money moves to the club.

While they started the session participating in the light kicking drills, the pair drafted off to the side for some light running around the boundary as others stepped up the contact work.

It shows the Blues are being careful to manage some of their most injury-prone players after being savaged by injury throughout last season.

Carlton wants to help protect its stars from more injury problems in the early part of the year.

McGovern, 28, is in the final year of his contract and will want to finally put behind him the injury problems and soft-tissue dramas which have limited his impact at Carlton.

Carlton want to play McGovern, who played seven games last season, as an intercepting defender to help Jacob Weitering, Young and Caleb Marchbank, if he is fit, in key defensive posts.

Williams, 28, was brought to the club in the hope of making a switch into the midfield but moved back into a rebounding defensive role alongside Adam Saad.

Williams missed half the season last year with another calf setback and along with McGovern will be eager to complete a solid preseason in preparation for Round 1.


Jacob Weitering and Jack Martin were both absent from the session although the Blues confirmed the pair were training inside for the day.

Weitering is one of the best defenders in the competition who is coming off a shoulder problem, while Martin will attempt to build his fitness levels to career-best levels in 2023.

Martin has been deployed in a forward role in his first three years at Carlton but could improve his running to add a midfield string to his bow.

The extra flexibility would help coach Michael Voss with Martin yet to reach his potential since his high-profile move from Gold Coast to Carlton.


Thousands of fans braved the rain to catch a glimpse of Carlton as the Blues attempt to break a nine-year finals drought this season.

The Blues will be one of the must-watch teams in 2023 after an agonising finish to the season saw the club miss the finals in heartbreaking fashion.

But fans turned out in their droves to watch the Blues on Wednesday showing there is considerable excitement among the supporter base for what lies ahead.

Carlton has not made finals since Michael Malthouse led the club to an elimination final win over Richmond in 2013.

Buckley: Pendles could’ve given up captaincy years ago

Former Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has backed Taylor Adams and Jeremy Howe as the frontrunners to be the Magpies’ next captain, while pondering if it was the “right time” for Darcy Moore.

The Magpies are this summer contemplating who will succeed veteran Scott Pendlebury as captain after he announced early last month he would be stepping down as skipper.

The club’s longest-serving captain, Pendlebury, 35, led the Magpies for nine years after taking on the role in 2014.

Last season’s vice-captains Adams, Howe and Moore, and Brayden Maynard, have been mentioned in the conversation as potential candidates to replace the star midfielder.

Buckley considered Howe and Adams the most obvious choices to become the Magpies’ next captain.

He described Howe as an “underrated” leader, while he lauded Adams’ development.

“The guys that I thought were going to be around the mark – Steele (Sidebottom) has always been a good lieutenant. I don’t think he’s going to (become captain), he’s probably along in his career too far as well,” Buckley said on SEN.

“Jeremy Howe and Taylor Adams were the next two. Howie is an underrated leader and general on-field and his capacity to pull the group together and to lead with the right measure of head and heart.

“And then Tay’s development has been awesome the last two or three years. He’s been a little bit injury prone, he hasn’t been as available as he’d like to be.

“But they’re probably the main two.”

While 26-year-old Moore has also been highly touted as a captaincy contender, Buckley described the All-Australian defender’s case as “interesting”.

He said Moore would “relish” the role, but was unsure whether the club felt the timing was right for the backman.

“Darcy Moore is an interesting one,” Buckley said.

“I think that he would relish the responsibility, whether he feels or the club feels that it’s the right time for him, I’m not sure.

“He would always bite off more than he could chew and chew like hell.”

“My perspective is a little more informed because I had been there for a long time and I know the individuals, but I’ve still been out for 18 months.

“So the guys that are in there will know exactly what they’re looking for, where they want to be in the next three or four years.

“Craig McRae, Graham Wright clearly, (Justin) Leppitsch, (Brendon) Bolton – those guys, let alone the senior leadership in the playing group, which has always been really strong … they’ll make the right decision I have no doubt.”

Buckley revealed he and Pendlebury had held talks about a captaincy handover before the Covid pandemic hit, saying the evergreen star had always wanted to still be at the club when the new captain stepped in.

“Pendles and I had spoken about it for a couple of years actually, about a handover and when was the right time,” Buckley said.

“It was philosophical chats and spit-balling, but he really was keen to still be present when the next captain came in.

“We were looking at it into 2020, but then Covid hit and it’s nearly like all of the progressive plans you had, they nearly come back into themselves, I wasn’t surprised to see that (him continuing).”


Tarquin Oakley

Carlton have been dealt a double injury blow with Jordan Boyd and Matthew Cottrell to spend time on the sidelines.

Boyd has re-injured an acute fracture in his foot and is expected to have surgery on Wednesday, while Cottrell is recovering from a navicular stress fracture.

In a club statement, Carlton Head of Football Brad Lloyd was still positive both players can play a role in 2023.

“It’s disappointing news for Matthew and Jordan, who have shown an appetite to compete since day one of pre-season,” Lloyd said.

“We know both players will leave no stone unturned in their recovery: Matthew has already been very diligent in his rehab, and we know Jordan will do the exact same post-surgery.

“We will give both players the required time to recover to ensure they’re in the best possible position to positively impact the team in season 2023.”


Rebecca Williams

Collingwood forward Nathan Kreuger is set to be sidelined for the opening rounds of the home-and-away season after undergoing a shoulder reconstruction last week.

After being spotted at training on Monday with his right arm in a sling, the Magpies confirmed Kreuger had suffered a second significant shoulder setback in under a year.

Kreuger’s injury came as star defender Darcy Moore resumed running after a bone infection impacted his start to the pre-season.

The Magpies said Kreuger had injured his right shoulder – the opposite shoulder to the one he had operated on last season – at a training session before the holiday break.

The club said it had not placed a firm timeline on Kreuger’s return, but hoped he would be available to play “within the first six rounds”.

Collingwood’s general manager of football Graham Wright said it was an untimely setback for Kreuger after his injury last year.

“It’s unfortunate for Nathan Kreuger to have sustained an injury to his right shoulder after experiencing a setback with his left shoulder last year,” Wright said.

“Nathan underwent surgery last week and, at this stage, the aim is for him to be available within the first six rounds of the upcoming season.”

Dressed in his civvies, Kreuger walked laps of the ground with a coffee in his free hand before sitting down to watch the session from the sidelines at Monday’s training.

Kreuger managed just five senior appearances in his first season at Collingwood in 2022 in an injury-interrupted campaign.

The former Cat required surgery after injuring his shoulder in the Anzac Day clash against Essendon in round 6, but made a late-season comeback to feature as the medical sub in the Magpies’ qualifying and preliminary finals.


Collingwood says Moore is “tracking well” after the key defender started running following his delayed start to his summer campaign.

Moore remains on light duties as he continues his recovery from a bone infection, which put him in hospital earlier in the pre-season.

The Magpies’ captaincy candidate joined his teammates on track, but trained away from the main group.

Moore initially focused on exercises with an elastic resistance band before he then moved onto running drills.

The 2020 All-Australian defender suffered a pre-season setback when it was discovered he had been suffering from osteomyelitis, an inflammation that occurs in the bone.

“Darcy Moore is tracking well after suffering a bone infection and we are pleased to see him back running and reintegrated into the football program,” Wright said.

“Due to the nature of Darcy’s setback, we will continue to monitor his progress closely.”

Young midfielder Finlay Macrae also trained with the rehab group after experiencing a stress-related back issue in December.

The Magpies said the 20-year-old should return to running later this month.

“Fin Macrae has been working through a stress-related back issue and the plan is for him to be back running within the next couple of weeks,” Wright said.


Star father-son siblings Josh and Nick Daicos were among the last to leave the training track as they teamed up to do some extra drills.

The sons of club great Peter worked on gathering loose balls and then dispatching rapid-fire handballs.

Nick is coming off a standout debut season when he won the league’s Rising Star award, while Josh also produced a career-best year last season.

Ruckman Mason Cox was also one of the last out on the track, spending extra time working on his overhead marking.


He was the heartbreak story of Collingwood’s finals campaign when he suffered a serious groin injury in the club’s qualifying final.

But midfield star Taylor Adams looks to have the heartbreak well and truly behind him.

The 29-year-old looked super fit on the track as he pushed hard during the two-and-a-half hour session at the club’s headquarters.

Jordan De Goey also looked sharp as he completed the bulk of the session after returning the track last week following arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder at the start of December.


Former Tiger and Gold Coast Sun Oleg Markov joined the Magpies for training as he chases an AFL lifeline.

Markov joined in the full session as he hopes to secure a spot on the club’s AFL list.

The 26-year-old has played 51 games – he was traded to the Suns from Richmond at the end of 2020 and then delisted last year.


– Chris Cavanagh

Richmond young gun Josh Gibcus will meet with a specialist in coming days after suffering a serious hamstring injury at training on Monday.

The key defender had to be helped from the ground by trainers after appearing to hurt his leg, with further advice set to determine how long he will be sidelined for.

“Josh suffered what we think is a pretty serious hamstring injury,” Richmond physical performance manager Luke Meehan said.

“He will consult a specialist in the next couple of days and we’ll know the plan of action from there.”

Selected at pick 9 in the 2021 national draft, Gibcus made his presence felt in his debut season last year as he played 18 games for the Tigers including the club’s elimination final loss to Brisbane.

The 19-year-old won Richmond’s Best First Year Player award.

In another injury setback, fellow defender Nick Vlastuin suffered a cracked rib after copping a knock at training last Thursday and will be sidelined from contact training over the next few weeks.

“He is still on track for the start of the season,” Meehan said.

“He’ll still be able to run and things like that, but we need to keep him out of contact”.

In better news, key forward Tom Lynch has returned to the track and is said to be “progressing really well” following foot surgery before Christmas, while midfielder Jack Graham is building his training loads after toe surgery last year.

Richmond is set to face Carlton in a traditional Round 1 showdown to open the 2023 home-and-away season on March 16.


– Chris Cavanagh

St Kilda has been dealt another pre-season injury blow, with mobile forward Jack Hayes set for an extended stint on the sidelines just days after returning to full training.

Hayes worked his way back into main training as the Saints returned from their Christmas break last week, having finally recovered from an ACL injury which he sustained during his fifth AFL game last April.

However, his return from the rehabilitation group was short-lived, with a fresh foot injury arising during training at Moorabbin on Monday morning.

The 26-year-old left the track early, with scans later confirming a metatarsal break in his left foot.

“Jack has been dealt a really rough hand since debuting last season,” St Kilda performance and medical manager David Misson said.

“Jack had just returned to full training after completing his ACL rehabilitation, so for this to happen is very disappointing.

“The recovery period for an injury like this is typically between 8 to 10 weeks.

“His resilience has been unfairly tested for an athlete so early in his career, but we know that he will attack his rehab in the same professional manner we have become accustomed to.”

Hayes will have foot surgery on Tuesday.

The 194cm tall burst onto the scene early last season as a mature-aged recruit, logging 18 disposals, 10 marks and three goals in his debut game.

The fresh injury is a further blow for the Saints, who are already expecting to be without star key forward Max King for the start of the season after he had shoulder surgery days before Christmas.

Nick Coffield (ACL/hamstring), Tom Campbell (Achilles) and Zak Jones (calf) are all said to be “progressing well” after minor issues meant they did not take part in full training last week.

Meanwhile, Brisbane has moved key defender Marcus Adams to its inactive list as he continues to battle concussion-related issues.

Adams sustained a delayed concussion after playing in a match against Carlton in Round 21 last year and missed the remainder of the season.

“Unfortunately, Marcus is dealing with a serious injury that will unlikely see him play in 2023,” Brisbane football boss Danny Daly said.

“While he is making some progress in his recovery from concussion, he continues to experience symptoms and his health and wellbeing remains the top priority.

“The club is fully supportive of Marcus and his recovery, and he will remain involved with our footy program.”

Adams, 29, played 18 games last season, ranking above average among key defenders for disposals, intercept marks and one-on-one contests.

Brisbane will be able to fill Adams’ list spot through the AFL’s Pre-Season Supplemental Selection Period or via the Mid-Season Rookie Draft.

Originally published as AFL Pre-Season News: Jacob Weitering and Jack Martin miss Blues training AFL news 2023: Blues training, Sam Walsh, Jacob Weitering and Jack Martin absent

Ryan Sederquist

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