Carlton has lost its last nine games to Hawthorn but coach Mick Malthouse is determined to end the streak on Friday night, sending a strong message to his players by dropping Chris Yarran for last week's poor body language when he was designated substitute.
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Footy Fix: Carlton face Hawthorn hoodoo
Rohan Connolly is at Glenferrie Oval to preview round 12 of the AFL season, including Carlton's clash with Hawthorn on Friday night.
Carlton's football manager, Andrew McKay, told the club's website Yarran had failed to meet the Blues' high standards.
''Chris has worked harder than anyone at training this week, but we demand a level of excellence and he didn't meet that last Friday night,'' McKay said. ''We know Chris will be better for this, the club will be better for this, and we know Chris will make amends when he gets his opportunity."
For his part, Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson is putting no import on his team's winning streak against Carlton.
Only six Blues - Eddie Betts, Andrew Carrazzo, Heath Scotland, Kade Simpson, Jarrad Waite and Andrew Walker - were at the club the last time it defeated Hawthorn, in early 2005.
Since that time it has lost by an average of seven goals, with only one single-figure loss.
Clarkson downplayed the significance of his team's imposing head-to-head record. ''All we really focus on is the next time we play them,'' he said. ''Their side's changed quite a bit and obviously their coaching has changed over the past 12 months too, so we've got a new opponent in a sense for us this week.''
Malthouse this week coaches, in a fashion, against former Blues coach Brett Ratten. That Ratten is now a key assistant coach at Hawthorn would, Clarkson said, give the Hawks a good insight into Carlton players' individual playing traits. ''But Carlton are [collectively] a very, very different side now that Mick's there,'' he said.
One of the most conspicuous aspects of Carlton's first half of the season - it ranks seventh - is that none of its six wins have come against teams ranked above it.
Champion midfielder Chris Judd, who will be playing his 250th match, alluded to that record in addressing whether last week's dramatic loss to Essendon, after it controlled the vast majority of the match, had given it extra motivation this week.
''It's an important game for us because they are one of the real benchmark teams of this competition … and for us to improve they're the teams we've got to play well against and be able to beat,'' Judd said. ''There's no doubt our best footy is as good as anyone, but some of our lapses differentiate us from the top sides. Those really top teams probably don't have those drop-offs in games. That's where our challenges lie.''
Apart from dropping Yarran, Malthouse also left out defender Simon White. The pair were replaced by Andrew Carrazzo and Josh Bootsma.
The former has been selected after overcoming a calf injury that had sidelined him for the Blues' past six matches.
Judd, speaking before Yarran's omission was confirmed, compared the 22-year-old's situation to that of forward Waite, who was fined after a petty headbutt caused him to be suspended for a key match against St Kilda, which the Blues lost. Waite was exceptional last weekend with seven goals against Essendon.
''He [Waite] has come out and rectified it and been really important for us. We're looking forward to Chris doing the same for the rest of the year,'' Judd said.
Clarkson predicted the role of shackling Waite would be rotated through three of Hawthorn's defenders: Brian Lake, Josh Gibson and Ben Stratton.
Hawthorn strengthened its line-up by recalling Jack Gunston after a minor calf injury.
The improving forward was joined by ruckman Max Bailey, who was dropped for the Hawks' last match. Defender Kyle Cheney and tall forward Sam Grimley were dropped to accommodate them.
Clarkson was delighted that Cyril Rioli took part in the final pre-match training session on Thursday, having been cleared to resume full training following his severe hamstring injury almost six weeks ago.