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Matthew Kreuzer can see blue skies on the horizon

Wins have been few and far between for Carlton ruckman Matthew Kreuzer since the Blues last made the finals – by default after Essendon was kicked out of the finals – in 2013.

Just 17 results have gone the Blues' way in the 61 games he has played since being part of that year's elimination final win over Richmond, having to miss the semi-final loss with a calf injury.

Carlton ruckman Matthew Kreuzer, in the orange socks the Blues will wear for the Carlton Respects match, raising awareness for equality and prevention of family violence.

Photo: Joe Armao

No wonder a smile exploded across the naturally reserved big man's face when he described how it felt last Saturday to be part of the Blues' first win of the season, the club's second win since June last year.

"It meant a fair bit," Kreuzer told Fairfax Media.

He's a man of few words, the 29-year-old who celebrated his birthday last Sunday.

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He prefers, as everyone knows, to let his actions do the talking.

It's fair to say on that basis that no one could shut him up against the Bombers as he collected 20 disposals, 31 hit-outs, a career-high 19 contested possessions and laid seven tackles to be the second-best player on the ground behind the freakish Carlton midfielder Patrick Cripps.

Excited about the talent yapping around his big feet and leaping over him in packs up forward he also mentors the youngsters in his own way while remaining as quiet as a rural hideaway.

"I don't say a whole heap at the best of times. It's more the things I do," Kreuzer said.

"It's all about showing them a bit of guidance and how things work [and] just being a role model I guess for them."

He remembers the way he was treated when he arrived as a fresh-faced, shy No.1 pick at the end of 2007, his first match at Carlton being Chris Judd's third with the Blues.

"What sticks in your mind are the blokes that come over and welcome you and say this is how things work," Kreuzer said.

Matthew Kreuzer takes on Todd Goldstein.

Photo: AAP

That's the philosophy he has adopted greeting a fresh-faced list, with just Marc Murphy and Kade Simpson remaining from the day he arrived full of hope 11 seasons ago.

Now with 166 games behind him he hopes he can be part of the next push towards finals in the next couple of years.

"We are pretty young but there are a lot of young, determined kids down here," Kreuzer said.

His confidence in the coach Brendon Bolton is obvious and his connection with ruck coach Saverio Rocca evident too as he continues to push himself to become as fit and strong as possible.

Over the pre-season just gone he pushed himself hard on the bike to build his endurance, his favourite ride taking him from Melbourne's northern suburbs to Kinglake and back, a journey popular with Victorian cyclists.

"I really enjoy getting out and finding a few hills to get up and down," Kreuzer said.

Such a rollercoaster ride is something Kreuzer has become used to at Carlton, with both injury and the team's form testing his resilience at times.

He even toyed with the idea of a move when a free agent at one point but the words ''Kreuzer and Carlton'' seem connected like chips and gravy.

"I love the club. I have had some ups and downs over the journey but what the club has done for me has been tremendous," Kreuzer said.

The Blues also kept their faith in the mobile 200-centimetre ruckman who hunts the ball at stoppages when he played just 14 games between 2014-15 and have been rewarded, with Kreuzer missing just five games in the past three seasons.

He finished third in the best and fairest last season and was nominated for All-Australian honours as he hits peak influence, which only made his absence with groin problems in three games this season harder to bear.

Even the mild-mannered Kreuzer admits he occasionally lets his frustration show when he is struck down.

"For sure you do," Kreuzer said.

"But there is no point ranting and raving about it. You just cop it on the chin and move on and think about how you can get back quicker and ask what do I need to do to get back. That is the way I look at it."

On Sunday he will take on the game's in-form ruckman in Melbourne's Max Gawn, wearing orange socks – a colour the club coincidentally wore back in the 1870s – as part of the Carlton Respects game the Blues support to promote gender equality, which research suggests prevents violence against women.

Kreuzer can't wait for the challenge of playing Gawn, ready to back up his match-winning form against a formidable opponent and a team he had not lost to until Melbourne beat the Blues twice last season.

"Max has been a great player in the last few years. He is one player you can really learn a lot off as he is a smart footballer," Kreuzer said.

As is Kreuzer, as he prepares for another win to put the grin back on his face.

"Going forward we just have to keep chasing that feeling," Kreuzer said.

"We know now what it does take to win a game of footy."

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Peter Ryan

Peter Ryan joined The Age in 2017 having covered AFL as a senior reporter with AFL Media.

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