Fixing Carlton’s misfiring forward line is a top priority for Brendon Bolton as the Blues embark on a new era under the rookie coach.
Carlton possessed the 18th-ranked attack last season and managed just 17 goals (including two nine-pointers) across their three NAB Challenge games.
The Blues take on Richmond at the MCG on Thursday night and Bolton must devise a way to kick a winning score with a forward line that has undergone significant personnel changes in recent years.
The last time the Blues beat the Tigers in their first clash of the season back in 2012 Eddie Betts, Jeff Garlett, Mitch Robinson, Jarrad Waite, Shaun Hampson and Chris Yarran were among the goal kickers.
Throw in Lachie Henderson and Troy Menzel, regulars in attack last season, and the list of forwards now plying their trade at other clubs is lengthy.
“It’s a work in progress but we do think if we can win enough of the supply battle we can give ourselves a chance there,” Bolton said of his attack.
“Make no mistake we’ve been training that really hard – it’s ongoing and we need to continue to train it.
“Also some of our midfielders might be able to hit the scoreboard … we’ve got to work really hard on it.”
Prized No.1 draft pick Jacob Weitering was named to make his AFL debut in the season-opener and is one of five new Blues with Jed Lamb, Matthew Wright, Andrew Phillips and Sam Kerridge also selected.
“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 of Weitering.
“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.
The Tigers had to reshuffle their own line-up with injuries to Brett Deledio (quad), Reece Conca (hamstring) and Ivan Maric (back).
First-round draft pick Daniel Rioli comes in for his AFL debut, while former GWS Giant Jacob Townsend will play his first game in yellow and black.
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.”