The West

Cometti: Comfortably my worst yet ...

"The one thing we won't do is say we can't win without him."

That was Michael Malthouse's comment in the aftermath of yesterday's admirable but costly Carlton win over the Western Bulldogs.

Unfortunately, the circumstances that saw dual Brownlow Medallist Chris Judd rushed into their side seemed to say exactly that.

As it turned out (he played only six minutes before limping off with a torn hamstring) you could argue they got it wrong twice.

They did win without him!

And now they face several more weeks without him.

In fairness to Malthouse and Carlton, most experts agree the onfield action that led to Judd's injury represented bad karma for all but the very fittest players. Still, the whole exercise smacked of desperation.
That Judd was not physically underdone is almost impossible to accept.

What the result also highlighted was that a lack of interchange (Carlton were down to one on the bench in the last quarter) is not the death sentence some critics rant about.

Back in 2008 I asked my statistician to check the validity of what has become one of the most repeated claims in footy.

The figures, at least for that season, showed sides with a depleted bench (and before the sub rule) actually had a better chance of winning.

It was a perverse trail that ended on grand final day when Hawthorn, decimated by injury at half-time, went on to win the flag.

The one-size-fits-all, follow-the-leader mentality of the AFL isn't always best practice.

Surely some players are just better suited to continuity in games.

One thing's for sure, in 20 years' time the sports science, the tactics and the beliefs of today will be remembered as the bad old days.

Certainly Chris Judd had a bad day yesterday.

The West Australian

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