A lacklustre start from Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy on the back of a disappointing 2020 campaign has led some to question his mammoth deal.
Grundy is on an enormous seven-year deal at the club reportedly worth $1 million per season and runs until the end of the 2027 AFL season.
But since signing last year the 26-year-old has endured a poor run of form and Grundy was again quiet in the Magpies’ season-opening loss against the Western Bulldogs.
However, form is temporary and class is permanent according to former All-Australian ruckman Luke Darcy who has backed Grundy emerge from his form slump against Carlton on Thursday.
“I’m a bit perplexed by some of the commentary around Brodie Grundy,” Darcy told 7NEWS.
“It’s a pretty tough environment these days, you have one game where you maybe lower your colours and the world closes in on you.
“I’d be judging him over the length of that deal in five or six or seven years time.
“I’d be backing Brodie Grundy in to come back in and play really well straight away.”
Carlton are hoping the return of Jack Martin and the club debut of Zac Williams can inspire them to their first round-two victory in nine years.
The Blues will be looking to avoid falling into another early season hole when they host their arch-rivals at the MCG.
Carlton have slumped to 0-2 every year since Brett Ratten’s last season as coach in 2012.
Despite a fighting first-up defeat to reigning premiers Richmond last week, the heat will be on the Blues if they fail to conquer the Magpies.
Not that coach David Teague is worried about that.
“It’s our second game of the year so you won’t catch me buying into that sort of thing,” he said on Wednesday.
“We want to go out and win, don’t get me wrong, but you can play really well and not win at this time of the year.”
Speedster Martin’s availability after being a late withdrawal against the Tigers is significant, as is Williams’ first appearance for the Blues after receiving a one-game suspension during the pre-season.
“I don’t know whether he did it on purpose, but (Williams) gets to debut in front of hopefully 75,000 Carlton supporters,” Teague said.
“To have Zac back in there (is great); he’s tough, he tackles, he’s very smart with his ball use, particularly in traffic.”
Veteran small forward Eddie Betts missed again despite recovering from a calf strain.
Teague insists Betts remains in Carlton’s best team despite the goalsneak likely being in the final season of his decorated career.
“He unfortunately missed a fair chunk (of training), so right now it’s that balancing act,” he said.
“You’ve got to work out when you go to your best 22, or when you get him to the stage where he’s playing his best footy to come in and reward the guys that are playing their role.
“We’ve got some great competition for spots at the moment, it’s a good challenge for us coaches.”
Betts was named as an emergency and could feature in the game if he is picked as the medical substitute.
Forward Jack Silvagni, who became the first player to be medically subbed out of an AFL game, has avoided a serious shoulder injury and is a chance to return for Carlton’s clash with Fremantle in round three.
Collingwood welcomed back star onballer Steele Sidebottom from a calf injury, while midfielder Callum Brown also returns.
Oliver Henry and Trey Ruscoe were omitted.
Blues veteran Marc Murphy will tie Justin Madden on 287 games to become equal-sixth on Carlton’s all-time games tally.
– with AAP