Carlton showed on Sunday how well they can win without Chris Judd; now it’s a skill the AFL club must master if they wish to clamber up the ladder.
Judd lasted six minutes in his first match of the season and scans on Monday confirmed the dual Brownlow medallist would miss five weeks due to his hamstring injury.
The Blues were counting the cost of their 28-point win over the Western Bulldogs, with Ed Curnow (fractured fibula) and Tom Bell (fractured finger) also facing lengthy stints on the sidelines.
Curnow will miss six weeks, while Bell is out for club’s next three matches.
The Blues’ worst start to a season in 25 years finally provided some bright signs in the gutsy win over the Bulldogs, in which Curnow attempted to play through the pain of his fractured leg.
But the reality is Carlton, finalists from last year who started 2014 with great expectations after bolstering their list with the likes of Dale Thomas, have one win from five rounds.
They now enter a decisive stretch that features games against West Coast, Collingwood and St Kilda, and Judd won’t be able to assist.
“Injuries are injuries,” coach Mick Malthouse said after the match.
“What are we going to do about it? One thing we won’t do is get locked out and say that we can’t win with or without him (Judd).
“We all know how great a player he’s been and he’s been missing all year really.”
Judd was doing his best to stay positive, despite the fact he has been in recovery mode since achilles surgery in February and will now miss almost half of the season.
“It’s not the end of the world. I’ll be back and it was great the team had such a great win,” he said.
Judd was adamant lack of luck rather than fitness was responsible for his injury, sustained when he was pushed by Bulldogs forward Stewart Crameri while attempting to kick the ball on the run.
“I’d done a heap of running and a heap of leg strength work, so there was no issue with conditioning,” he said.
“It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d trained for 50 weeks or six weeks.
“You look at the GPS data, and that speed that I was pushed at was twice as quick as anyone else moved for the night.
“So it was just pretty simple mathematics. Your hammies can’t tolerate that and there was a bit of a pop.”