Date: July 12 2012
Carlton has given 195-centimetre defender Matthew Watson a rucking "crash course" this week in case he is needed to support No. 1 big man Matthew Kreuzer.
It is still unclear whether star midfielder Marc Murphy will play against North Melbourne tomorrow night, but Blues assistant coach Mark Riley did give an indication of how the coaches plan to cover for the loss of regular ruckmen Shaun Hampson (knee injury) and Robert Warnock (VFL suspension) and assist Kreuzer.
"The next tallest player will come in and be the second ruckman," Riley said after training today.
"Watson went into the ruck last week, but as he told us, there wasn't any stoppages when he went in there," he said.
"So we've done a bit of a crash course with him this week.
"Kreuz rucked a lot of the time, a lot of other teams do that, so I think we'll go down that path again this week."
North Melbourne coach Brad Scott is apprehensive about facing the suddenly in-form Kreuzer.
The Blues believe Kreuzer will relish the challenge to ruck 90 to 100 per cent of the game - as he did last week against Collingwood - but the main concern is who will take on North Melbourne tandem Todd Goldstein and Drew Petrie if Kreuzer suffers a serious injury.
Watson spent time with the Blues ruck coach at training today, doing stoppage and tap-work drills with some of the midfielders and fine-tuning his body work in ruck contests.
In another area of the ground, Murphy - who has not played since injuring his shoulder against Adelaide in round eight - underwent a second fitness test.
He has not been ruled in or out for the crucial showdown at Etihad Stadium, however Riley said the Blues won't "play any tricks", confirming Murphy would play if selected in the 22 tonight.
"He went through a fitness test the other day, pulled up okay, he's doing another one (this morning) so we'll know more soon," Riley said.
Murphy would not use his injured arm to mark balls during the end-of-session goal-kicking practice, but Riley was adamant that the reigning best and fairest had the full range of motion in the joint.
"It will be just be the physical elements. But if there is any doubt or risks then he won't be risked," Riley said.
Fellow key position player Bret Thornton, who stands at 192cms, is another option to play second ruck and is still a chance to come in after some solid VFL form over the past two weeks, but Riley stopped short of giving him a full endorsement.
Midfielders David Ellard and Kane Lucas will also come into calculations as the Blues look to replace Kade Simpson, who is out with a broken jaw.
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