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Blues to blood draftees but coach hoses down expectations

Nick Bowen  February 26, 2016 10:28 AM

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No.1 draft pick Jacob Weitering is set to debut in navy blue in the NAB Challenge

CARLTON plans to blood the majority of its 2015 draftees against Essendon on Sunday, but coach Brendon Bolton says no great expectations will be put on No.1 pick Jacob Weitering in his debut.
 
Charlie Curnow, pick No.12 in last year's NAB AFL Draft, was the only one of the Blues' draftees to play in their first NAB Challenge game against Hawthorn last Thursday.
 
Curnow has again been named in Carlton's squad for the Bombers clash, but so too have the Blues' other national draft selections last year, Weitering, Harry McKay (pick No.10), David Cuningham (No.23) and Jack Silvagni (No.53).
 
Bolton told reporters on Friday he was hoping to play most of those players in Sunday's game, but said they would first have to get through training later that day.
 
The Blues acknowledged the club's members would be excited to see players such as Weitering and father-son recruit Silvagni in action for the first time, but downplayed the significance of the occasion.
 
"The NAB Challenge is all about refining your game plan, exposing guys, managing loads, so I don't think the pressure is there of the season proper. All those youngsters are really looking forward to their first opportunity," Bolton said.
 
Asked whether Weitering is well placed to handle the scrutiny that follows a No.1 draft pick as he attempts to translate elite promise into elite performance, Bolton suggested the key defender, like all first-year players, would need time to find his feet in the AFL.
 
"I think what we all need to understand is the jump from TAC Cup and under-18s (to the AFL) is significant," Bolton said.
 
"It is a big jump, but what we can say is Jacob and all our first-years have applied themselves, have a real willingness to learn and we've just got to look for the little sprouts that they do well in and be excited about the little moments.
 
"That's really important."

Carlton captain Marc Murphy and leadership group member Andrew Walker missed last Thursday's clash against Hawthorn and have been left out of the squad to take on Essendon as the Blues carefully manage both ahead of the home and away season.
 
Murphy is returning from minor shoulder surgery in December, while Walker has been working hard all summer to get on top of the knee problems that have plagued him over the past two seasons.
 
Bolton was hopeful the pair would return in the club's final NAB Challenge game against the Sydney Swans on March 11.
 
"We've managed [Walker's] work loads, he's been in the system a long time now. [Murphy] is back on his legs and doing some really hard conditioning work at the moment.
 
"We're hopeful by the end of the NAB Challenge we’ll see them out there."
 
Emerging star Patrick Cripps has also been left out of the squad for Sunday's game after a knock at training this week left him with a bruised knee.
 
Bolton said Cripps' omission was largely precautionary.
 
"There's a fair few weeks left before round one so we're not going to risk it at this stage," he said.