Daisy has first hit-out with Blues

Carlton's prize recruit Dale Thomas has completed his first practice match without a setback and is set to play in the NAB challenge series.

Carlton football operations chief Andrew McKay said Thomas, who will wear No.39 this year, had ''pulled up really well'' after the intra-club practice match, in which the Blues played four 15-minute quarters late on Thursday morning.

McKay said Thomas had played on the wing and half-back and was earmarked to take part in one of the club's NAB Challenge games, against either North Melbourne on Saturday week or the following weekend against Port Adelaide.

McKay said the Blues had to handle Thomas' match-load carefully because he ''plays a ballistic type of game''.

Thomas has had serious ankle problems over the past two years - which was a factor in Collingwood's unwillingness to match Carlton's massive four-year deal (about $700,000 a season).

But the Blues say he has been progressing well.

McKay said Chris Judd, who did not play in the match, was unlikely to play in the NAB Challenge games, with the club keen for him to play in the last practice match early in March against the Western Bulldogs.

Carlton's list is relatively healthy, with Matthew Kreuzer easing back from a foot injury that required surgery. Key players Marc Murphy, Michael Jamison, Brock McLean and Andrew Carrazzo were all rested.

But perhaps the most significant event in the game, apart from Thomas, was that key forward and veteran Jarrad Waite managed to play, performed well and was not injured. McKay said Waite seldom played in intra-club practice matches.

Another important veteran, Kade Simpson, also played, as did Heath Scotland.

Midfielder Tom Bell impressed for the second consecutive week in an intra-club, with Bell playing mainly as a barging midfielder.

Carlton's NAB game against North is to be played at North Ballarat. McKay said the club wanted to have every player possible available for the final practice match. Unlike recent years, Carlton's season opener will not be against Richmond on a Thursday night. This year, the Blues meet Port in round one at Etihad Stadium.

Carlton coach Mick Malthouse earlier this week referred to Thomas as like ''a son'' but said Daisy would not receive preferential treatment.

Malthouse was Thomas' coach for all but the last couple of his eight seasons with Collingwood. ''He is a beauty, he brings so much to a football club,'' said Malthouse. ''I try hard not to be biased and not to show it.''

Some clubs have been keen to have their players gain some match play earlier this year, in part due to the revamped pre-season competition, in which most clubs will play one fewer game in the NAB Challenge series, which begins next week.

The story Daisy has first hit-out with Blues first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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