Under-fire Carlton captain Patrick Cripps has angrily denied reports he stayed at a separate hotel from his team-mates ahead of the Blues’ loss to Sydney last Friday night.
The Blues face heightened scrutiny after a disappointing first half of the AFL season, sitting 13th in the table with just four wins.
That included a 26-point Round 11 loss to the struggling Sydney Swans who had the torch firmly aimed at the struggling Blues.
Speaking on Channel Nine’s Footy Classified this week, veteran journalist Caroline Wilson singled out Cripps and teammate Sam Docherty, saying they had stayed at a separate hotel from their teammates which was not good for the unity and team morale.
“First of all Patrick Cripps, when they had a short break after the West Coast game, was allowed an extra day at home, he’s obviously a Perth lad,” Wilson said about Cripps.
“I don’t think a lot of eyebrows were raised about it, but internally a few people did.
“Then before the Sydney game, I think Sam Docherty and Patrick Cripps didn’t stay at the team hotel, they stayed at a boutique hotel in Paddington.
‘Is this unusual? It just seems like in times like this, when you need to galvanize, it just seemed a little odd to me that they weren’t all together after the game.
Cripps angrily denied claims he said called into question his character and commitment to the team
Cripps spent time with his wife and family members in Sydney after the match while he was away from the club
Caroline Wilson made the accusation on Footy Classified and wondered if it was good for team unity and morale
Cripps responded on his Instagram account, hitting back at Wilson that the information was incorrect and that he only stayed at a separate hotel after the Swans game.
“I can deal with criticism on form and defeat, but when it’s factually incorrect and calls into question my character and my commitment to the team, it bothers me. This is the responsibility as players that we would like to see with certain people in the media,” he said.
“For clarity for everyone, I stayed with the team the whole time they were in Sydney and joined my wife and family members on Saturday evening when we had the weekend off.
“We’re not where we want to be as a team right now, but never question my commitment to this team or this club.
“I can’t wait for Friday night.”
Wilson has since phoned Cripps to apologize while Channel Nine released a statement on Twitter.
“On Monday night it was reported on Footy Classified that Patrick Cripps and Sam Docherty had been staying at a separate hotel from that used by the rest of the squad in Sydney on Friday night. It was untrue,’ the statement read.
“We spoke with Patrick and apologized.”
Cripps’ post was supported by teammate Trent Cotchin, who responded with applause emojis, Rebecca Judd – wife of club champion Chris Judd – who responded with a punch emoji, Bombers star Zach Merrett and Australian Boomers basketball star Nathan Sobey who responded with fire emojis.
Former bachelor Sam Wood also launched an impassioned defense of Cripps and called for Wilson to be held accountable.
“It’s good mate that you posted this and stood up for yourself,” he posted.
“Imagine if some media had to live by the standards and control that you do. They would have been abandoned, written off and forgotten decades ago.
Patrick Cripps’ Instagram post that drew support from Olympic bronze medalist and former bachelor Sam Wood
A host of past and present AFL players liked the post, including Bryce Gibbs, Adam Treloar, Marcus Bontempelli, Bradley Hill, Jack Steele and Tom Mitchell.
It comes as Carlton’s once-promising campaign crumbles after losing six of its last seven games, with their only victory in that span against the historically poor West Coast.
On Monday, the club confirmed that board member Craig Mathieson had resigned with immediate effect.
Unconfirmed reports suggest his resignation follows a row with Carlton chairman Luke Sayers in the Blues dressing room after the loss to Swans.
Carlton have another tricky period ahead, starting with Friday night’s game against Melbourne after back-to-back defeats.
The Blues then face in-form rivals Essendon, followed by a dangerous home game against Gold Coast.
Mathieson’s uncle Bruce is a long-time Carlton broker and a fortnight ago fiercely criticized the administration of the club.