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Bolton: NAB Challenge important for us

Carlton coach Brendon Bolton is looking forward to the NAB Challenge. (Photo: AFL Media)
Carlton coach Brendon Bolton is looking forward to the NAB Challenge. (Photo: AFL Media)

Carlton coach Brendon Bolton says the NAB Challenge will present the perfect opportunity for his new-look side to build chemistry.

The Blues open their pre-season campaign against reigning premier Hawthorn in Launceston on February 18, with at least 10 new players in line for their first outing in the Navy Blue.

“The NAB Challenge is a great opportunity for us to refine and develop our game plan,” Bolton told 3AW on Thursday.

“What we need to understand is that we’ve lowered the age profile of our group. There’s been a big turnover of players and coaches, and it’s just an exciting time to let our talent compete against real AFL quality, especially in the first game against Hawthorn where they’ll put out some premiership players.”

The Blues have lowered their average age to 23 years and 345 days, with five talented teenagers secured in last year’s national draft.

Of those draftees, Bolton says he’s been particularly impressed with Jacob Weitering (pick 1), Charlie Curnow (pick 12) and David Cuningham (pick 23).

“I’ve been really impressed with our new guys,” he said.

“David Cuningham’s been able to find the ball in the match simulation we’ve been doing, so he’s been impressive.

“Charlie Curnow and Jacob Weitering have held their own against seasoned AFL players on our list.

“It’s all exciting and looks promising for our future.” 

As for the senior brigade, all eyes will be on Dale Thomas, as the midfielder looks to make amends for an injury-ravaged 2015 season.

The 28-year-old has had a solid pre-season and is set to feature in the NAB Challenge.

“I can’t fault his (Thomas’) willingness to learn and play our new way,” Bolton said.

“He’s had a really good pre-season, so let’s hope he’s out there in the next few weeks.”

Carlton will hold its Family Day at Ikon Park on Sunday, with Bolton to be joined by the entire playing list for a fun-filled day with the Bluebaggers.

“We’re really excited about Sunday and we’re trying to break our club membership record of 51,000 by Round 1, so our Family Day is hopefully another step in making that happen,” Bolton said.

“It’s a really good chance to introduce our new players and coaches to many of the Bluebaggers out there.”

Click here for all the information regarding Family Day