Murphy to sit out AFL pre-season opener

Freshly reappointed Carlton captain Marc Murphy will sit out their AFL pre-season opener against Hawthorn as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery.

The Blues could unveil No.1 draft pick Jacob Weitering in Thursday’s Launceston match.

Murphy and Weitering are in the extended squad for the game.

The captain will travel with his teammates to provide support, while a call is yet to be made on whether Weitering plays.

It is unclear if Murphy will play in the pre-season cup.

“It’s sort of week-to-week thing at the moment,” he said.

“It’s feeling really good at the moment (and) I’ve been out there training for the last month and a half.

“I’m slowly starting to come back and I will do some contact stuff soon.

“So I’m on track for where I need to be.”

Weitering is among nine new Carlton players named in the squad of 29.

Thursday will also be a big day for Carlton’s Brendon Bolton, who will start his fulltime senior coaching career against the club where he spent the past five years.

“The big thing I want to see there is unity – making sure we’re about helping each other,” Bolton said.

“It’s also an opportunity to rehearse our game plan, the way we want to play.

“I’d expect, with all teams, early NAB (Challenge), that won’t be perfect.”

Bolton said Murphy remained the right man to captain Carlton.

“The one thing I know about Murph, he leads by enduring,” Bolton said.

“We know he’s a terrific runner, so he pushes and people follow.

“The other thing I’ve been really impressed with is his ability to challenge others and celebrate what others are doing.

“He has the conversations that are required.”

Murphy heads an expanded seven-player leadership group that also features young guns Patrick Cripps and Sam Docherty.

Cripps, not yet 21, beat Murphy by one vote to win last year’s best-and-fairest award in only his second senior season.

There was speculation over the summer that the Blues might make the shock decision to elevate him to the captaincy.

Bolton said Cripps and Docherty were young, emerging leaders.

He was particularly impressed that despite last year’s personal successes, Cripps had a solid off-season.

“He’s only played really a handful of AFL games, but he comes back in elite physical condition,” Bolton said.

“What does it say? He’s professional and he’s not complacent.”

“It’s about the collective and that’s something that Bolts has really come in with … we’re under no illusions.”

Murphy said Cripps was a great example to the Carlton veterans, as well as the younger players.

“I love working with him and look forward to working with him for many more years – if I could play for another 10 with him, it would be great,” he said.

Cripps will not play on Thursday, while vice-captain Kade Simpson will lead the team in Murphy’s absence.

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