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About Jacob and the journey (so far)

Tony De Bolfo, Carlton Media  June 23, 2017 3:22 PM

The Journey | S2E4 Season 2 | Episode 4. In the fourth episode of Season 2 of The Journey, go behind-the-scenes as Carlton struggles with mid-season form, before a season-defining win against the Giants. Presented by Virgin Australia.

The following Q and A with Jacob Weitering, a mid-afternoon affair within the partitions of the media department’s workplace pod, was the player’s last club commitment for Tuesday, June 20. 

Q and A comfortably negotiated, Weitering then completed the brisk walk from Ikon Park to the nearby pad he shares with Jesse Glass-McCasker and Matt Korcheck. Loading the car, he duly completed the leisurely hour-long drive from Princes Hill to the Mornington Peninsula, and there he caught a couple of waves.

For Weitering, as with his peers, it’s all about the balance.

“I’m in this sharehouse with two of the boys from the club, Jesse and Matty, and that’s been great - but they’re players so you can’t really get away from the environment. That’s why home and getting out of Melbourne is always the best option for me, and I do that often,” Weitering said.

“My parents live down in Balnarring so it’s a case of going down there to catch up with family and old friends. Wherever you come from you call it God’s country, but I believe the peninsula is God’s country with the surf down there and the beautiful landscape . . . and it’s an only an hour’s drive down EastLink.”

AFL 2016 Training - Carlton 181216
Jacob Weitering is a strong believer in work-life balance. (Photo: AFL Media)

In engaging in conversation with the No.1 national draftee of 2015, it’s easy to forget that Weitering is still a few months shy of his 20th birthday. As you will readily discover through the course of this Q and A, Weitering’s maturity truly belies his tender years, with each poser - from the coach to the playing group, from the now to the future – met with a clarity of response. 

In the lead-up to Sunday’s Richmond match – the follow-up to the opening round encounter when he booted three on Alex Rance, Weitering canvasses the following views.

THE CARLTON WORKING MODEL OF 2017

“The team, based on last year, has probably got a little more consistency and we’re getting a few more guys coming through. I’m pushing into 30-plus games, Charlie (Curnow) is pushing into 20, and the new boys ‘Samo’ (Petrevski-Seton), Zac Fisher, Harrison Macreadie and Tom Williamson are all playing a part, so there’s a lot of growth in that section. I also think the leaders have really stood up as well. There was a really strong leadership group when ‘Bolts’ came in who have really carried that through this season. Having Marc Murphy back has really helped, (Sam) Docherty is obviously having another great year and ‘Gibba’ (Bryce Gibbs) is standing up in big games, which is good. 

THE BOLTON FACTOR

“He (Brendon Bolton) is relentless on and off the field. He’s very meticulous, he’s measured. When it comes to reviewing and previewing games and teams he knows exactly what he’s talking about – and he’s very good at communicating that to the playing group. He also understands each individual and the way they need to be coached.

AFL 2015 Media - NAB AFL Draft
Jacob Weitering, pictured on 2015 draft night with Brendon Bolton, speaks highly of his coach. (Photo: AFL Media)

THE MINDSET

I think everyone’s just realised that we can go places with the list we have. No matter the age gap, no matter who’s playing on the day, we can each play our role and hopefully get the win. That’s a collective buy-in . . . it’s showed in the last two weeks and I think we can carry that on for the back half of the season which we probably didn’t do at all last year.

Two wins on the trot after the bye is a real positive for the group. We have talked about streaks and the way premiership teams have put games together and wins together after the bye, and we haven’t done that in a very long time. I think it’s going to be a focus this week, to not just be satisfied with two wins but to get three, and obviously it’s a big one against the Tigers. 

MOMENTUM

I think it’s more a confidence in the game plan, the coach and each other. Again, we’re gelling as a group. Players are getting more games into them, the leaders are standing up in big moments as I said before, and it’s just a real confidence that we can get it done more at the end of games as well.

Last year we were able to put one, two, maybe three quarters together, but then it was just one quarter that would let us down. We’ve since been putting together four quarter efforts and if not we’ve been able to fix a three or four-goal streak that the opposition has got on us. Gold Coast got in front of us in the last, GWS got in front of us in the last, but we’ve been able to capitalise, get a few scores and get the win in the end.

These games are building the character of the group.  

WHAT'S BEEN LEARNED AT SENIOR AFL LEVEL

It’s not so much the on-field things, but the off-field things that go into it. Preparation’s one thing, and you can talk about the body, preparing, recovery ice baths, hydrating and putting the right foods in, but it’s more the meticulous nature of things, like being out on the track and having those extra couple of marks drilled into your hands, or extra couple of kicks – the different type of kicks you’re going to have in a game – and learning from blokes like Kade Simpson who’s in doing his performance prep. You talk about professional athletes and their elite standards and it’s getting to those elite standards that make the 200-game players the players that they are.

IS LEAGUE FOOTY FUN?

There’s different ways you can look at it. Some say it’s a grind, some say it’s a lot of fun and that’s football I think. It’s an up-and-down game with emotion especially.

‘Bolts’ talks a lot about equilibrium, of not getting too high and not getting too low. For me I’m still learning that and I think for the young boys it is hard to learn. We looked at the four Rising Stars and Jack (Silvagni) obviously had a fantastic game on the weekend, but now his challenge is to back that up.  For me it is just about gaining that consistency. Again we’ve got a young group, but learning from the older guys and putting together a string of good games will help us in the long-run I think.

AFL 2017 Round 03 - Carlton v Essendon
Jacob Weitering and fellow youngster Jack Silvagni soak up a win over the Bombers earlier this season. (Photo: AFL Media)

A SOUND MIND IN A SOUND BODY?

At the start of the year you play the first four or five games on adrenalin because footy’s back and you’re absolutely loving it. No matter the result, you’re just loving being back playing.

You might be winning or losing a few and you might not have a few good performances - and that was my start to the season. I had a few good games in the forward line and obviously I changed positions as well, and I had a few down games. It was a little bit of a struggle mentally, because you think in your second year it’s just going to keep going up and up. But ‘Bolts’ is always on about not stagnating – just keep growing whether you win or lose. So for me, post-bye it was about making sure the body was right.

FORWARD OR BACK?

I would like to keep an open mind on the whole position talk, only because you want to be in a position where if the team needs you playing forward then hopefully I can go down forward and make an impact. And if they need me back I can make an impact as well.

Against the Suns I enjoyed watching ‘Jonesy’ (Liam Jones) take a big scalp. (Tom) Lynch was the main man, and I took up the challenge of taking on a larger opponent (Peter Wright). I thought I’d done a reasonably good job on him until the 34th minute of the last quarter when I let him put one through. I shut off for two seconds and he got a score, but it’s all a learning curve.

For me I do feel comfortable down back, whether it’s a lockdown role or having a bit more input in the motion side of things and the ball movement. We’re a very versatile backline, which probably helps as well. You can probably see that Docherty has been pushing a bit further up the ground and having 30 consistently, and Simpson the same. And I think ‘Marchy’ (Caleb Marchbank) has complemented our backline terrifically since he’s come into the side. It helps me and I hope I help him, but if I do go down forward I enjoy my time forward, especially when it’s coming like it did at the weekend. 

AFL 2017 Round 01 - Carlton v Richmond
Jacob Weitering has made an impact as a forward this season. (Photo: AFL Media)

MAINTAINING THE ELITE STANDARD

The way we’ve come back after the bye illustrates the mindset of the group. We’re not going to talk finals, but you look at the ladder and we’re one win out of the eight.

It’s going to take a hell of a lot of effort from every side in the League to make the eight this year. We’ll take each week on its merits, we’ll look at the (opposition) team, we’ll respect them, and we’ll go in thinking it’s going to be a 50/50 battle. The expectations of the group remain high. It’s been driven by ‘Bolts’, the leaders have been terrific, and the drive of both the young and the old remains the same.

ABOUT RANCE

(In Round 1) I learned a lot from the guy who was and still is now the prime key defender in the League.

It (another match-up) could be a possibility at the end of this week. It’s down to the coaches and what they want, and it depends on how we match up as well. I know they (Tigers) are quite small down forward so it might be a matter of maybe ten-minute hits each quarter, but we’ll just wait and see . . .

CARLTON, THE DESTINATION CLUB

You mentioned the model of the Club. I think that obviously starts at the top with the ‘Prez’, the CEO, Brendon - and even Stephen Silvagni in the way he has managed the list – who have done a terrific job of modelling a culture, a game plan and a list that breeds success in the future.

The collective buy-in has been massive as well, and I guess the implementation of the women’s team has helped with the exposure we’ve got for the way we run that program. There’s that whole-of-club approach, with both teams - both men and women - being terrific in attending events for each other and doing media stints with eachother. It’s probably got rid of that ‘Boys Club’ tag, which all clubs had pre-2000s I guess. 

THE FUTURE

Study’s always going to be an option. I started a uni degree with commerce in international relations. I thought I could take on a fair bit, but I realised that wasn’t going to be the case. It (the future) is definitely going to be in the business sector and I’d love to stay in football, in a management role of some sort. With the education we get and the support mechanisms we have it’d be silly not to take on study now, at 19 or 20 years of age. If you do start at 25 it’s not too late, but the average career is only four or five years, and if you’re stable both on and off the field by 23 or 24 when you’re meant to be in your prime is a great springboard for you.