CARLTON coach Brendon Bolton says there is no need for the Blues to block out hype about No.1 draft pick Jacob Weitering after the key defender moved into favouritism to win the NAB AFL Rising Star award.
Weitering pushed past Sydney Swans draftee Callum Mills and Melbourne midfielder Christian Petracca in betting markets on Friday night after another polished NAB Challenge performance.
Full match coverage and stats
He backed up his accomplished pre-season debut against Essendon two weeks ago with 15 possessions and seven marks against the Sydney Swans at Etihad Stadium.
It was Weitering's composure and knack for being in the right positions that stood out, with the 18-year-old even winning an aerial contest with superstar Lance Franklin when the two were isolated.
Bolton, who was happy with the Blues improvement on Friday night, said the club should welcome the weight of expectation now on Weitering.
"Our members should embrace that [hype] not close it off," Bolton said.
"Why do we not want to be excited about a young guy out of the under-18s who's doing OK?
"He's a professional, he'll learn to not let the noise distract him.
"He's very focused and determined to keep improving and if he's in that mindset, that's OK.”
Carlton produced its most competitive performance of the pre-season on Friday night, outmuscling the Swans in the midfield and holding its own for long periods of the match.
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A five-goal run for the Swans in the second quarter was ultimately where the game was decided, with the Blues otherwise impressive in the 25-point defeat.
“Our turnover and execution with the ball hurt us," Bolton said.
"I would have thought they would have kicked maybe 50 points from turnovers.
"So we have to keep working on our ball movement and connection.
"It's going to take some time, but there were parts of it we enjoyed."
Carlton's midfield was its strength on Friday night, with Patrick Cripps and Sam Kerridge combining for 16 clearances and the Blues winning that stat 47-37 overall.
Blaine Boekhorst also looked much improved going into his second season, winning 27 possessions and kicking a nice running goal.
"I'd have to say it was my best game so far," Boekhorst told AFL.com.au.
"It's nice to get the ball in your hands, but it's a team game and as the team gets better I'll get better.
On his clear improvement under Bolton, Boekhorst said the new coach was "a good teacher and he makes you think about the game".
"He makes you a smarter footballer and that's what happened over the last pre-season."