SPEAKING after the “honour” of being crowned the 2020 John Nicholls Medallist, Jacob Weitering’s full focus is on backing up in 2021.

The star defender was the unanimous favourite leading into the event last Friday night, with the 23-year-old duly recognised for a career-best season so far.

However, there’s no doubt that Weitering won’t be resting on his laurels.

Speaking to media from Ikon Park on Monday, Weitering was full of optimism for greater improvement - both personally and across the board - ahead of the upcoming season.

Carlton’s 2021 AFL campaign will feel all the more real this Thursday, when it comes up against Essendon from Ikon Park at 11am.

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Weitering's focus for 2021

Jacob Weitering spoke to the media to discuss the opening hitout of pre-season as well as being crowned the 2020 John Nicholls Medallist.

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“Looking from the outside, there’s a fair bit of expectation. We’re just looking to continue on what we built last year, and that’s a strong, competitive brand of football,” Weitering said.

“We’ve got a lot of guys motivated to play some really good football this year. For me, it’s doing the same again: trying to be as consistent as I can.

“I’m not someone who goes out there to get as many touches as I can. It’s about stopping my opponent from kicking goals, it’s as simple as that.”

The John Nicholls Medal itself was an exclamation mark for Weitering, whose 2020 also saw him named in the All-Australian squad for the first time while committing to Carlton until at least the end of 2025.

After some frustrating seasons result-wise, Weitering’s mandate is clear when it comes to the team’s goals for the season to come.

“This is my sixth year now and we’ve obviously had some up-and-down years. In my first year, we won seven games. My third year, as is quite advertised, wasn’t great for us and we won two games,” he said.

“Last year again was different, and that was with less games. I don’t think it’s any secret that we’re looking towards September and that’s what we want to aim towards.

“The best way to do that is to go week-by-week. We’ve got Essendon this week in a practice match and then St Kilda before Richmond in Round 1. We’ve got to get the job done.”

Weitering was quick to put his hand up for Thursday’s practice match against the Bombers, and he expects a number of his experienced teammates to do the same.

This summer has been a shorter pre-season than previous years, with Weitering flagging that more players would be eased into practice matches given the shorter turnaround.

However, he still expected Carlton to see field a strong side in three days.

“We’ve had a shortened pre-season, so it’ll be nice to get the team out there and have a good hitout against a quality opposition,” he said.

“There are guys who’ll be managed a little bit. We’ve been doing match sim for the last couple of weeks now, so in terms of getting that match simulation in and the load of playing, I think it’s the right balance [with two pre-season games].”