Docherty’s heartache leaves Cripps as main man
CARLTON superstar Patrick Cripps will have to lead the club's revival alone next season after co-captain Sam Docherty ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament at training.
Docherty suffered a second successive injury to his left knee following an innocuous mishap during pre-season training at Ikon Park.
"It's clearly a huge disappointment for Sam to experience such cruel luck," Blues football boss Brad Lloyd said.
"We are all feeling for him right now. The way he tackled his rehab this year was simply incredible and he could have played at the end of last season before the decision was made to hold him back.
"If the last 12 months have shown anything, it's that Sam is made of everything that is required to return to his elite best once again."
Lloyd said the Blues would "work through what sort of procedure Docherty will undertake".
But unless Docherty undergoes revolutionary LARS surgery the All-Australian looks set to be unavailable until 2020, the year when his contract expires.
Docherty, 25, has not played since 2017.
In 2017 Docherty became Carlton's first All-Australian since 2011.
Carlton swapped first-round picks with Adelaide in a bold live trade at last month's national draft and the Docherty blow will leave list boss Stephen Silvagni feeling uneasy.
If the Blues finish in the bottom four for a third successive season it will be the Crows who profit with their top-four draft pick.
Carlton's first draft pick in 2019 is tied to where Adelaide finishes.
Natural leader Docherty acted as a quasi-assistant coach in 2018 after receiving AFL permission to instruct teammates from the interchange bench during matches.
Coach Brendon Bolton has rated Docherty's football brain as "elite" and likened the halfback gun to Hawthorn legend Sam Mitchell.
The Blues were so impressed with Docherty's commitment to his rehabilitation they installed him co-captain with Cripps for 2019 after Murphy stepped down.
Kade Simpson, 34, will play on in 2019 and provide support for the club's young backline.
Docherty's absence will also provide an opportunity for former Swan Nic Newman.
Just last week Docherty said after initial trepidation, he was confident he was over the injury.
"I think you sort of lose the mental challenges in terms of your knees, because you do so much of the stuff you are scared about," Docherty said.
"The first time I ran, I was scared; the first time I changed direction I was really scared; and the first time I did a high mark I was scared.
"But then over the repetition of doing that, you lose that once you are out on the field ... once you are out training, you just don't notice anything that is going on with your body."