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'I didn't handle it as well as I thought I would': Bryce Gibbs on the pain of 2015

Carlton star Bryce Gibbs says the pain of 2015 is driving him this pre-season as the Blues cross their fingers that a group of key players can put injury behind them and finally get a clear run playing together.

Gibbs was one of the club's leaders forced to sit out much of 2015 because of injury and he detailed how hard it was to watch his team-mates endure a disastrous season in the media spotlight.

Gibbs played just 10 games as Carlton slumped to the bottom the ladder and coach Mick Malthouse was sacked amid a turbulent period filled with undesirable headlines for the club.

"It was one of more my challenging years since I've been at the club, personally and as a team," Gibbs said on Wednesday from the club's training camp on the Gold Coast.

"It was my first major injury and surgery so it was new to me and I probably didn't handle it as well as I thought I would," he said.

"It's hard to watch the team go the way they did last year.


"All you want to be able to do as one of the senior players is to be out there helping.

"To not be able to do that was frustrating, and it's definitely given me some motivation heading into next year."  

Gibbs suffered a serious pectoral muscle injury in the round 15 game against Richmond and had surgery, joining fellow stars on the sidelines such as Dale Thomas, who did not play after round nine due to the need for a shoulder reconstruction.

Although ruckman Matthew Kreuzer played 13 games at the end of the year, he did not begin playing until round 10 because of a foot injury.

Fellow veteran Andrew Walker managed just 12 games, while Michael Jamison played 14.

So much recently has been spoken about the youth that has now flooded the Blues' list and there is a genuine acknowledgement throughout the club and supporters that a "reset" is needed.

There are no quick fixes this time, however that being said, the club still wants to see improvement every year - the graph heading in the right direction. 

And so especially in the short term, the men at the top of the "experience" food chain - Gibbs, captain Marc Murphy, Thomas, Kreuzer, Michael Jamison and Andrew Walker and others - will have a vital role to play.

If that group can produce close to career-best football – much like Robert Murphy and Matt Boyd did for the Western Bulldogs this year, for instance – then that could make an immeasurable difference to Brendon Bolton's grand plan.    

"For the last few years, we have never had all our senior players out there. Hopefully we have a bit of luck this time," Kreuzer said.

Thomas sees it the same way: "We've got enough blokes in that bracket, but we just haven't had a decent run at it together".   

There is a minor concern on Murphy's recovery from a shoulder injury, but it is so far so good for the others this pre-season and the same goes for Gibbs, who is doing all the skill and fitness work, but being kept out of tackling and high-contact drills.

"If it was in-season, then I think I would be fully playing and everything," Gibbs said of the pectoral muscle rehabilitation.

"But given it's pre-season, we are just taking a conservative approach. There is no point hurting it prior to Christmas."

The Blues have been put through a gruelling pre-season camp in the Gold Coast heat, including a circuit-style beach training session on Wednesday.

Gibbs said there was a "buzz" among the whole football staff, not only with the injection of 15 new players but also the new coach and the additions to his panel such as Neil Craig, Dale Amos, Tim Clarke and Shane Watson.

"It's a lot different to what he have been used to but it's been a really good different," Gibbs said.

"We're trying to strip it right back and start again," he said.

"Not only Bolts, but all the coaches who have come in have come from successful clubs in their time there and they are all bringing different ideas to the table as well, and modelling something into a Carlton way that we want to go about it."