Blues veteran sees light at end of tunnel

By AAP Newswire

Success has been fleeting during Kade Simpson's AFL career but the Carlton stalwart sees plenty of reason for optimism as he approaches his 300th game.

Simpson will become just the fifth Carlton player - following in the footsteps of club legends Craig Bradley, Bruce Doull, John Nicholls and Steve Silvagni - to reach the milestone when he runs out against Port Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday.

Not bad for a bloke who couldn't get a kick at the start of his career - literally.

Simpson famously went without touching the Sherrin in his first three games and struggled to string consecutive appearances together until his third season.

He has since become a valuable and respected backman who took out the club's best-and-fairest award in 2013 and continues to perform at a high level.

Plenty has changed at Carlton since Simpson made his debut in 2003 but success has been elusive - the Blues have made the finals just four times during his 16 seasons.

Another lowly finish appears certain this season with the Blues (one win, 12 losses) languishing in bottom place.

But three years into the club's well-publicised rebuild, Simpson insists there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The 34-year-old is even daring to dream of a premiership following the odds-defying triumphs of the Western Bulldogs in 2016 and Richmond last year.

"It might seem strange to say that when we're sitting bottom of the ladder but I think (about) what the Bulldogs did, what Richmond did and how even the competition is this year," Simpson said.

"I don't think anyone expected the Kangaroos to be in the eight and Collingwood are sitting top-four. Watching sides like that and how quickly they've turned it around, it does give me a lot of hope still."

Simpson caused a stir when he told Fox Footy he wouldn't mind seeing the Blues trade away a potential No.1 draft pick in exchange for an established star such as GWS midfielder Dylan Shiel.

He qualified those comments on Tuesday, noting that it would depend on the quality of the draft, but reiterated that Shiel was a "ready-made superstar".

The same description could soon apply to young Blues forward Charlie Curnow, who starred against Collingwood last week.

"Charlie at the moment has probably got the world at his feet, really," Simpson said.

"He's an exceptional talent but he works extremely hard as well, and that's what I think we're seeing come out now."