ACTING Carlton captain Kade Simpson is excited to find out how his young teammates fare under the pressure-cooker environment of a clash with reigning premiers Hawthorn.
The Blues have named nine debutants for their NAB Challenge opener against the Hawks at Aurora Stadium in Launceston on Thursday night.
Hawthorn, on the other hand, has picked 13 players who took to the field in the club's third successive premiership victory over West Coast last October.
"They've (Hawthorn) got a good side in which I'm really happy about," Simpson, who is filling in as skipper in place of the injured Marc Murphy, said at Melbourne Airport on Wednesday morning.
"We've been playing so many intraclub and match simulation drills at training that you get sick of playing against each other. You want to put it in against real opposition and is there any better opposition than Hawthorn? I wouldn't have thought so."
Carlton's three top draft picks from last season, Jacob Weitering (No.1), Harry McKay (No.10) and Charlie Curnow (No.12) will all get a taste of playing at the top level.
"I hope they'd be pretty nervous. It's a big deal playing your first game. The senior guys out there will take responsibility and show them the ropes, but they're quality young men and they'll put their best foot forward," Simpson said.
Simpson, who will deputise for Murphy in 2016, said his leadership style was slightly different.
"I'm a bit quieter off field, Murph has quite a bit to say around the group. On field, I'm pretty vocal once I cross that white line," Simpson said.
"With a lot of new and young guys out there we'll have to be pretty loud and set the right example, as well as setting blokes up in the right position."
Simpson nominated former Giants and Swans forward Jed Lamb as a player who was ready to take the next step after limited opportunities at his former clubs.
The 23-year-old, pick No.21 in the 2010 NAB AFL Draft, managed just 12 games in three seasons at the Swans and 10 in two years with the Giants.
"I think he's going to be a really good, pressure small forward for us," Simpson said.
Sam Docherty, who was promoted to the leadership group this week, and Mark Whiley were the others Simpson mentioned as capable of lifting their game.
"Sammy Docherty's pre-season has been absolutely outstanding so I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do this year," Simpson said.
"Mark Whiley's a guy we haven't seen a lot of through injury and he's taken a big step, and he'll have a massive role in the midfield tomorrow night."