Barring some disaster, Carlton’s round-one AFL team against Richmond on March 24 will feature Jacob Weitering in defence.
A year after Melbourne key forward Jesse Hogan made such an impressive debut, Weitering also showed in his first pre-season hitout that the progression to senior football will not worry him.
Carlton’s No.1 draft pick last November took nine marks, six of them intercepts, and was the big positive out of their 10-goal loss on Sunday to Essendon.
Missing many of their star players, the Blues were too scrappy and Essendon blew them away in the first half for a morale-boosting 1.13.8 (95) to 1.3.8 (35) win.
Carlton billed this as a game where they would unveil their kids, with players such as Weitering, father-son selection Jack Silvagni, Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay all playing.
But they also left out captain Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs, Andrew Walker, Matthew Kreuzer, Dale Thomas and Sam Kerridge.
The lack of such experience means it remains to be seen whether their former coach David Parkin is right in saying that Essendon have a better list.
But what is undeniable is that even though he is only 18, Weitering will quickly make an impact in the AFL.
“It was a terrific start for a guy straight out of under-18s to play with that composure,” Bolton said.
“Big Harry McKay kicked a goal and Jack Silvagni had a shot on goal, so they had a little sniff of what it takes and what it feels like.”
Bolton was also adamant about fielding such a young side, despite the occasion.
This was the first time Carlton had hosted Essendon at their Princes Park home since 1992 and it attracted a healthy crowd of 18,718.
But the only fixture that bothers Bolton is the opener against the Tigers.
“The driver is round one – you don’t second-guess yourself on decisions like that,” he said.
“We use our sports science and high performance group and we make decisions that are best for our list and round one.”
Nick Graham also impressed in the midfield, but otherwise the Blues were too sloppy with their ball movement and after an even start, were never in the contest.
Early in the third term, two Carlton teammates spoiled each other and that summed up the team’s day.
David Zaharakis impressed in the midfield for Essendon, while their No.5 draft pick Darcy Parish had a promising debut hitout.
Replacement players Ryan Crowley, Jonathan Simpkin, Sam Grimley and Sam Michael all had solid games.