Opportunity knocks for Blues veteran as Giants await

Shayne Hope |

Adam Saad (L) is looking forward to playing in Carlton’s run to the finals.
Adam Saad (L) is looking forward to playing in Carlton’s run to the finals.

Carlton’s dashing playmaker Adam Saad senses the opportunity.

After a decade in the AFL system, the three-club veteran of 187 games has never had a better shot at premiership glory.

The high-flying Blues (11-4) enter July in second place, six points clear of third, on the back of five consecutive wins.

A drought-breaking flag is within sight if Michael Voss and his men get it right at the business end of the season.

“It’s a lot different to last year, I can tell you that,” former Essendon and Gold Coast defender Saad told AAP.

“I’ve been playing 10 years and I’ve never been second on the ladder with seven or eight games to go.

“We’ve got to keep taking it week by week but there’s always a chance when you’re top-four with eight weeks to go.

“But that’s an outcome … we’re just going to stick to the process.”

Carlton face Greater Western Sydney at Engie Stadium on Saturday night, eager to avoid a potential banana peel against an unpredictable opponent.

The talent-laden Giants are under the pump after a series of sub-par performances and have slipped out of the top eight with losses in six in their past eight outings.

All-Australian key defender Sam Taylor (testicle) is missing, as is star midfielder Josh Kelly (calf), but Toby Greene, Jesse Hogan and Tom Green are all capable of tearing games apart.

“It’s always hard when you’re playing teams like that away, but we really believe we can beat anyone anywhere,” Saad said.

“If we stick to us and play our way, we give ourselves a chance.

“They’ve got stars everywhere in their midfield and their forward line, and they play a really good brand of footy.

“We have to be at our best.”

Toby Greene.
Toby Greene is left looking for answers after GWS’s loss to the Crows. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS)

All-Australian captain Greene hasn’t performed to his lofty standards this season, but kicked three goals in last week’s loss to Adelaide to take his season tally to 22 in 14 games.

He was held goalless when the Blues beat the GWS in round six.

Greene’s opponent that day, Jordan Boyd, is free to play on Saturday after having his suspension for forceful front-on contact downgraded to a fine at the tribunal this week.

“(Nic) Newman’s played on him, Boydy played on him last time … whoever plays on him will get the job done,” Saad said.

Carlton have been bolstered by the return of preferred ruckman Tom De Koning, who missed last week’s win over Richmond through soreness, and Matthew Cottrell has been recalled.

Ruckman Marc Pittonet and midfielder George Hewett have been dropped, while Matt Kennedy has been named despite sustaining a knee injury during the final quarter against the Tigers.

Aaron Cadman, the 2022 No.1 draft pick, is back for the Giants after two outstanding VFL performances.

James Peatling and inexperienced forward Darcy Jones have also been recalled, with Kelly out injured and Callum Brown and Max Gruzewski both dropped.