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Bolton: We're headed in right direction

Bolton on RSN's Inner Sanctum Coach Brendon Bolton discusses all things Carlton on RSN program 'The Inner Sanctum'.

CARLTON coach Brendon Bolton says his young side is headed in the right direction.

While the Blues fell one short of their seven victories in 2016, they were competitive for longer this season with a more inexperienced side.

In comparison to 2016, Carlton blooded three more AFL debutants (seven), with players aged 18-20 combining for 121 more games (160).

It led in final quarters in 12 of its 22 matches compared to eight last year, beating three top-eight sides to one in 2016.

And it didn't end there, with the Blues’ five Rising Star nominations eclipsing the Club’s previous season record of three in 2003.

Reflecting on his second season in charge, Bolton said his investment in youth would pay off in the long run.

“The philosophy we live by is to give them (youngsters) a little bit of a spell during the week and allow them the best learning in a game,” Bolton told RSN on Tuesday. 

“Some people do it the other way, but we think games give you great learning experiences, be that success or failure.

“You’ve got to endure, and provided it’s safe and their bodies aren’t at risk of injury, we’ve rolled them out there because we want to mentally harden our youngsters.”

Five Blues featured in the Rising Star class of 2017, including Jack Silvagni, Charlie Curnow, Caleb Marchbank, David Cuningham and Sam Petrevski-Seton. (Photo: AFL Media)

While the baby Blues made their mark in 2017, Carlton’s leaders delivered in “driving high standards”, according to Bolton.

Sam Docherty became the Blues’ first All-Australian since 2011, leading the competition for marks and kicks and finishing second for metres gained. 

Captain Marc Murphy overcame an injury-affected 2016 to lead his teammates in every game, featuring in the league’s top 20 for effective disposals and inside 50s.

Bryce Gibbs equalled his career-high for average disposals (26.8) and set a new personal best for average tackles (5.9), while Patrick Cripps and Ed Curnow were consistent performers before suffering season-ending injuries.

Evergreen defender Kade Simpson defied his years to play every game, moving into sixth on Carlton’s overall games tally.

Along with recent retiree Dennis Armfield, the aforementioned form Carlton’s seven-man leadership group, which earned high praise from Bolton.

“It would have been very easy for us to say we’re going for a total youth policy in this reset. That can make you really vulnerable in a brutal competition,” Bolton said.

“The key to this reset is our coaches uniting with our leadership group. We meet weekly and we have robust discussions. They (leaders) give me feedback on what worked and what didn’t during the week, and I also challenge or celebrate what they’ve done.

“It’s a really transparent leadership group. They’re really hungry and invested in our youngsters. They know that for us to grow as a club, they need to drive those youngsters, and they’ve done that really well. More importantly, they know they’ve got a responsibility to perform.

“They’ve all driven high standards and they’ve all performed."


Carlton’s players will come together on Friday night for the 2017 John Nicholls Medal, presented by Hyundai.

The prestigious event will be streamed live at and on the Carlton app from 7:10pm AEST.