Carlton will unveil prized No.1 draft pick Jacob Weitering when the Blues take on Richmond in Thursday night’s blockbuster AFL season-opener.
Coach Brendon Bolton confirmed to reporters on Wednesday that the key defender would make his AFL debut against the Tigers.
“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’s played really well in the NAB series and he gets his first chance.”
The Blues will also be boosted by the return of skipper Marc Murphy, who did not play in the pre-season as he recovered from off-season shoulder surgery.
Bolton said the club had taken a conservative approach with the 28-year-old, who has had trouble with his shoulders in the past.
The coach admitted he had a tough time of it at the selection table ahead of his first match in charge.
The Blues could unveil as many as five new players when they take on the Tigers who have had to reshuffle their own line-up with injuries to Brett Deledio (quad), Reece Conca (hamstring) and Ivan Maric (back).
Richmond have won just two of the nine matches Deledio has missed over the past two seasons, but Carlton will still go into the game as rank outsiders.
“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,” Bolton said.
“But we’ll give ourselves every chance.
“We understand that they’ve been in finals for the past three years so they have depth.
“We’re under no illusions about that but we’ve prepared well over the summer.”