Newman embraces hype as Blues launch AFL flag tilt

By Shayne Hope
Updated March 3 2024 - 2:15pm, first published 2:10pm
Nic Newman says Carlton will embrace the expectation about their season prospects. (Rob Prezioso/AAP PHOTOS)
Nic Newman says Carlton will embrace the expectation about their season prospects. (Rob Prezioso/AAP PHOTOS)

Carlton defender Nic Newman has urged teammates to embrace the external hype as they prepare to launch their AFL premiership assault with a daunting task against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba.

The Blues' 2023 campaign ended at the same venue last September, when they were unable capitalise on a five-goal head start in a preliminary final.

But after winning 11 of their previous 12 games and claiming their first finals victories in a decade, Michael Voss' side are widely tipped to contend for the flag this year.

"There are big expectations. There's a lot of talk about us after a fairly successful year last year," Newman told reporters on Sunday.

"There's part of it that we're going to embrace and you can't sort of avoid it and pretend it's not there.

"But our coaches and leaders do a great job of keeping us focused on what we value and the reality is we were pretty inconsistent in the home-and-away season last year.

"We obviously had a bad patch and then got on a bit of a roll, so for us it's about being consistent ... that's where our focus will lie, for sure."

Carlton will be without premier defender Jacob Weitering (calf) and dangerous forward Jack Martin (knee) for Friday's opening round match, while prime ball-winner Sam Walsh (back) is an unlikely starter and Jesse Motlop (toe) is under a cloud.

Weitering's absence, in particular, was felt when Melbourne picked holes in the Blues' back-line during their recent practice match.

But Newman backed the likes of Lewis Young and Brodie Kemp to contain Brisbane key forwards Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood, while setting his own sights on a possible match-up with Charlie Cameron.

All-Australian speedster Cameron kicked 59 goals last year and was threatening in the preliminary final, kicking one major from four shots.

"He's an important player for them and they've got just about the best forward line in the competition in terms of the spread over the six or seven of them," Newman said.

"We're going to be up for it.

"I'm not sure who will get that (Cameron) match-up but we're going to have to try and take care of him because he's clearly a pretty handy player and he's hurt us before."

Brisbane are aiming for a 15th straight win at their Gabba fortress and have not lost there since August 2022, while Carlton's last victory over the Lions at the venue was way back in 2013.

"It's obviously one of the toughest challenges in footy, going up there," Newman said.

"They're one of the best teams in the competition, especially at home.

"So it will be a big challenge but I think we showed last year in that last game that we're definitely capable.

"We started well in that first quarter and that's a little bit of the blueprint around how we want to play and for us it's about being able to consistently do it for longer."

Australian Associated Press