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Nick Bowen  March 23, 2016 10:56 AM

KB's blues, draft move, rivalry renewed Nat Edwards and Matt Thompson with the latest footy news
AFL 2016 NAB Challenge - Carlton v Sydney

Jacob Weitering will make his AFL debut against Richmond

It wasn't about the number at which he was drafted, it was about him earning a spot, and he knew he wasn't entitled to anything

CAPTAIN Marc Murphy and last year's No.1 draft pick Jacob Weitering will be part of the Blues team that takes on Richmond on Thursday night, coach Brendon Bolton says.

Murphy sat out the entire NAB Challenge as he recovered from two post-season shoulder operations, but has proved his fitness after returning to contact training recently.

Weitering,18, played in two of Carlton's three pre-season games, drawing praise from Bolton at the time for his composure and football nous.

Bolton told reporters on Wednesday that Murphy and Weitering would be named in Carlton's round one team, along with former Crow Sam Kerridge.

The Blues coach said Weitering had earned his debut on merit rather than reputation.

"(From) day one it wasn't about the number at which he was drafted, it was about him earning a spot, and he knew he wasn't entitled to anything," Bolton said.

"But this one he's entitled to. He played really well in the NAB series and he gets his first chance."

Bolton said Carlton had managed Murphy's rehabilitation "really conservatively", suggesting the skipper could possibly have played in the Blues' final NAB Challenge game against the Sydney Swans two weeks ago.

Bolton's enters his first season as an AFL senior coach in charge of a young group that welcomed 15 new faces in the off-season.

The former Hawks assistant coach said the task of preparing the Blues' playing group for 2016 had at times felt like "trying to cram for a uni exam".

Nonetheless, Bolton was confident his team would acquit itself well against Richmond, but downplayed suggestions that injuries to key Tigers Brett Deledio and Ivan Maric meant Damien Hardwick's men were vulnerable.

"(There was) a lot to change in a short time, but we think we're prepared," Bolton said.

"What we do know is Richmond are aiming for a premiership and have been in finals for three years, and we're a bit of the underdog. But we'll give ourselves every chance."

Despite showing many positive signs over the NAB Challenge, Carlton kicked a total of just 15 goals across its three matches.

Bolton acknowledged the Blues' forward line – which has lost Eddie Betts, Jarrad Waite, Jeff Garlett, Lachie Henderson and Troy Menzel to opposition clubs in recent years – was an area that needed to be addressed, but was quietly confident his team would find a way to kick winning scores in 2016.

"We do think if we can win enough of the supply you give yourself a chance there. Also some of our midfielders going forward may be able to hit the scoreboard," Bolton said.

"But what we do know is it's a work in progress and we've got to work really hard on it."