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Bolton: Weitering will swing

Callum Twomey, AFL Media  March 24, 2017 8:44 AM

Highlights | Carlton v Richmond The Blues and Tigers clash in Round 1.

Jacob Weitering's three-goal effort against All Australian defender Alex Rance won't see Carlton settle the No.1 pick in attack as the club hopes to build his versatility.  

The second-year Blue's contribution was a highlight for Carlton in its 43-point loss to Richmond in Thursday night's season-opening game at the MCG. 

Despite receiving a corked leg in the opening minutes of the game, the first selection from the 2015 NAB AFL Draft was excellent, taking seven marks and finishing as his team's equal leading goalkicker.

Coach Brendon Bolton said it was pleasing Weitering had "endured" the injury and played on, and that he will continue to switch the prized prospect from end to end.

"For his growth we'll develop him at both ends. We drafted him originally as a defender but we think in time he can be a genuine swingman," Bolton said after the defeat.

"This was another opportunity. He played a lot in defence in the JLT (Community Series), and this was a really good bite up forward. We think for his growth he'll play at both ends."

Bolton felt the Blues had enough key position cover in defence against the Tigers to push Weitering into an attacking role after bringing in first-gamer Harrison Macreadie alongside Caleb Marchbank and Sam Rowe.

But he didn't let the 19-year-old know of his plans to use him near goal until Weitering arrived at the ground.

"'Bolts' likes to keep people hanging and keep people on edge and I think it's a great way of doing it," Weitering said afterwards.

"It's just about playing my role at the end of the day. I obviously played defence a whole lot last year but versatility is such a big part of the game today. It's going to be a week-by-week thing and I'll play my role for the team. Wherever the coach puts me I'll be happy to play.

"I'm comfortable with it and not fussed at all. At the end of the day, either your team is going to be kicking it to you or the opposition is going to be kicking it to your opposition. I'll take it week by week and enjoy learning off the best. It's just like last year but I'll spend a bit of time up forward."

AFL 2017 Round 01 - Carlton v Richmond
Jacob Weitering towers above Richmond's defenders. (Photo: AFL Media)

Weitering was one of a host of youngsters Carlton gave valuable big-game experience to against Richmond, in a meeting that looked set to be a blowout at half-time when the Tigers led by 37 points.

The Blues lost the second half by just a goal, and Bolton was enthusiastic about his inexperienced side's response after the main break.

"We had five teenagers and about seven [players] under 21, and three debutants. You saw our future and they weren’t totally intimidated. We've got to tidy up our ball use, as some turnovers hurt us the other way but I think you saw our future," he said.

"What it says is these young kids won't give up and they didn't let the scoreboard affect them at half-time."

The Blues' first selection from last year's draft, No.6 pick Sam Petrevski-Seton, impressed in the first half with his composure and class before fading out of the game and finishing with 11 disposals.

The West Australian missed all of the pre-season competition with a quad injury but Bolton said he had no hesitation choosing him for the round one clash.

"You can just see he's got poise with the ball, he's calm, and the occasion didn't intimidate him. And if you dig deep into his life, not much intimidates Samo. We think he's got a big future," he said.

"We planned for him to [play] this game. Although we knew he wouldn't be [through] playing JLT, our conditioning staff did a really good job having him up and ready."