AS CARLTON plots the downfall of Port Adelaide's Travis Boak this weekend, Blues coach Brett Ratten said the club is interested in securing the talented midfielder next season.
Interest in Boak from Victorian clubs is expected to intensify, with the Power's 2011 joint best-and-fairest winner's contract expiring this year. He has been linked to a return to Geelong, with his family living just outside the city on the Surf Coast, but the 23-year-old said he will not rush his decision.
Ratten said yesterday the Blues were keen to talk to Boak's management, should he decide to permanently return to Victoria.
He said Carlton had room in its salary cap for a big name, and even if it fell short would make room. Similarly Geelong also has the cash, with several older players set to retire or placed on the (cap-discounting) veterans list. ''I'm trying to count four points coming our way, not the salary cap position at the moment,'' Ratten said. ''But I think we could go close depending on what type of figure we are talking.
''He's a very good player, Travis. We have got to try to combat him this week.
''If he was prepared to come home we would be very interested to have a chat with his management and see if he would be interested to come across. But that's something that [football manager] Andrew McKay will chase behind the scenes.''
It is understood Port is paying Boak $500,000 this season. But Boak said his family, not money, would drive his decision. He said he would discuss his future with his family when he returns to Victoria during Port's bye in round 13. ''What I said at the start of the year about being happy at the club and loving the club - that hasn't changed at all - so it's tracking along where we set out at the start of the year.
''It's a pretty similar situation [to the last time he re-signed] and when the time comes around I'll talk to my family and make sure they're happy and that's what I'm going through right now," Boak said.
Essendon was the most aggressive suitor for Boak the last time he was coming out of contract, in 2010, when he signed a two-year extension.
He is set to feature prominently in the three games until the mid-season break, after a three goal, 28 possession performance against the Gold Coast last weekend, signalling a return to his club best and fairest form.
Ratten, meanwhile, said he was prepared to bide his time. ''You can do a lot of work behind the scenes, pursuing players and talking and things like that and not many come through. Sometimes you spend a lot of time for not much reward.
''But when they do come through, when you talk about a Chris Judd or Robbie Warnock, that's really exciting for the football club.''
Boak's manager, Tom Petroro of Stride Management, declined to comment yesterday.
Carlton takes on Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium on Saturday night. Ratten said Lachie Henderson (hip tightness) was unlikely to play, while fellow defender Chris Yarran (toe) would be fit to play for the sixth-placed Blues. Nick Duigan (calf) will miss another week while Andrew Collins (jarred knee) will face a fitness test.