Carlton young gun Jacob Weitering played up forward during the Blues’ loss to Richmond on Thursday night, although the 19-year-old only found out that information just hours before the game when he arrived at the MCG.
The first pick in the 2015 AFL National Draft spent most of last season in defence, but Carlton coach Brendon Bolton last month spoke of his desire to use the teenager as a swingman during 2017, and Bolton’s plans took shape last night as Weitering booted three goals in a strong performance.
“‘Bolts’ likes to keep people hanging and keep people on edge and I think it’s a great way of doing it,” Weitering said post-game.
“It’s just about playing my role at the end of the day. I obviously played defence a whole lot last year but versatility is such a big part of the game today.
“It’s going to be a week-by-week thing and I’ll play my role for the team. Wherever the coach puts me I’ll be happy to play.
“I’m comfortable with it and not fussed at all. At the end of the day, either your team is going to be kicking it to you or the opposition is going to be kicking it to your opposition.
“I’ll take it week by week and enjoy learning off the best. It’s just like last year but I’ll spend a bit of time up forward.”
Bolton believes the choice to use Weitering at both ends over the course of the season will benefit the 19-year-old for the future, and says he’ll certainly continue with the move for most of 2017.
“For his growth we’ll develop him at both ends. We drafted him originally as a defender but we think in time he can be a genuine swingman,” Bolton said after the game.
“This was another opportunity. He played a lot in defence in the JLT (Community Series), and this was a really good bite up forward. We think for his growth he’ll play at both ends.”
Bolton was also pleased with how his young side fought back after half-time, as the Blues won the third quarter with their backs up against the wall.
“We had five teenagers and about seven [players] under 21, and three debutants. You saw our future and they weren’t totally intimidated. We’ve got to tidy up our ball use, as some turnovers hurt us the other way but I think you saw our future,” he said.
“What it says is these young kids won’t give up and they didn’t let the scoreboard affect them at half-time.”