AFL

Top Blue pick Jacob Weitering wants to play round one and happy forward or back

No.1 draft pick Jacob Weitering says he is aiming to play round one, and wants to develop his game at either end of the ground in his first season.

The highly-talented and mature key position youngster caught the eye of recruiters for his ability as a strong marking defender at under-18 level and has been working with the Blues tall defenders this pre-season, taking pointers from Michael Jamison and Sam Rowe.  

Top pick: Jacob Weitering and Carlton coach Brendon Bolton.
Top pick: Jacob Weitering and Carlton coach Brendon Bolton. Photo: Simon Schluter

However the 18-year-old said he did not want to be seen as a one dimensional player and was open to acting as a swingman for new coach Brendon Bolton – a type of player the Blues no longer have since the departure of Lachie Henderson to Geelong.

"As a draftee, I would love to develop my football at both ends of the ground," Weitering said.

Working hard: Jacob Weitering at the combine in October last year.
Working hard: Jacob Weitering at the combine in October last year. Photo: Quinn Rooney

"I do feel more comfortable down back, so I think we'll just start from there. But I'm just enjoying my time and see what happens."

With Jamison established as a reliable full-back, and Rowe improving as his "2IC" in defence, there is a role for Weitering to play as a flexible third tall in a stiffened-up Blues back six this year.

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However, Carlton have conceded that creating a potent offensive system is the biggest challenge facing them this year, and so it is also possible Weitering could provide another marking target closer to goal within that.  

Rarely has a draftee impressed his new club more than Weitering has with his maturity, and the player admits he has "definitely" thought about making his debut in round one.

However, doing so would be bucking a trend set for key position youngsters, with former No.1 picks such as Paddy McCartin, Tom Boyd, Jonathan Patton, Jack Watts, Matt Kreuzer, Brendon Goddard and Nick Riewoldt all having to wait until after round one of their first season to get their turn.

Since 2000, seven No.1 draft picks have made their debut in round one, but they were mostly midfielders. 

"It's every draftees' goal to play round 1 and obviously on a Thursday night, first round, Richmond, MCG [that is exciting], but you've just got to focus on your role for the team," he said.

It seems every year there is more and more advice for the teenager wearing the "No.1 pick" tag, but even against that standard Weitering is in a unique situation at Carlton, being on a list with three other former "No.1s" – Matthew Kreuzer (2007), Bryce Gibbs (2006) and Marc Murphy (2005) – as well Josh Fraser (1999), the club's new VFL coach.

"There's plenty of wisdom and knowledge to gather from those guys, but I don't focus on where I was picked," he said.

"I don't think any of the draftees do at Carlton. We just worry about being on a clean slate - we've got an even playing field here."

And none of the draftees have been getting any special treatment on the track, either.

Weitering is essentially training as if he were ready for the season-opener.  

"We've been chucked into a lot of things, we're doing close to the full load and there's been very few niggles and injuries," he said.

"We've been training incredibly hard — we've basically used every minute of the day. Breaks are rare."

For young and old.

Even the veterans like Gibbs have noticed how Bolton and the new coaching staff have established a demanding schedule.

"Obviously you still need to give the players their time away from the club … but he [Bolton] is really pushing the boundaries in keeping everyone at the club as long as he can," the 26-year-old said on SEN on Monday.

The key focus is learning a new game plan that Gibbs said presented a "pretty significant" change from those used by former coach Mick Malthouse last year, or Brett Ratten before him.

"We are doing a lot of things that we've never done before and we've stripped it right back and started again," Gibbs said.

"We will probably look to do things a bit more collectively, instead of in the past we have probably relied on too few to get the job done," he said.

"We've worked hard on our defensive side of things, but also not forgetting that, when we are up and going, we've got some of the best attacking players in the competition so we are definitely going to encourage bringing that flair back to the group as well."