Six new Blues to tackle Tigers

SEN - Wed, 20th Mar 2019 - 0 Comments

Number one draft pick Sam Walsh and high-profile recruit Mitch McGovern are two of six players that will debut for the Blues in Thursday night's season-opening clash against Richmond.

Joining that pair is two-time Liston Trophy winner Michael Gibbsons, former Magpie Alex Fasolo, ex-Swan Nic Newman, and one-time Giant Will Setterfield.

"We've got six debutants," Carlton coach Brendan Bolton said on the eve of the MCG blockbuster.

"There's half a dozen that we're really excited about.

"All of them have just fitted in so well to our footy club culture.

"I think there's as many as 13 changes from our Round 23 game last year."

Walsh's brilliant pre-season form led to widespread acclaim, and the 18-year-old heads into the season as a dominant favourite to win the NAB AFL Rising Star award.

"He's been fantastic in the JLT," said Bolton.

"He's one of the most level people I've met. He's not emotionally high or low, he's just got so much equilibrium."

Possibly the most surprising selection is that of Fasolo, whose career in navy blue got off to a shaky start when he fractured an arm in an alcohol-charged incident in late January.

Bolton was effusive in his praise of the dangerous forward, who missed both of Carlton's JLT Community Series matches.

"His determination to repay the group and the club on the back of the mishap where he broke his arm, he's worked incredibly hard," said Bolton.

"(Director of High Performance) Andrew Russell spoke to me and said he's probably as fit as he's ever been, so we're proud of his work ethic."

The Blues will be without first-choice ruckman Matthew Kreuzer against the Tigers.

Kreuzer underwent minor knee surgery in late January and had been considered a 50-50 prospect for the season opener.

"He's probably a week or two away," Bolton said.

"He's not far, he's very close. I wouldn't be surprised if he plays some footy next week."

Emerging defender Caleb Marchbank will also watch on from the stands, as he continues to overcome a back complaint.

"He's very close," the coach remarked.

"A bit like Kreuzer; in the next two to three weeks I think he'll be playing some footy."

Bolton said he is looking for a larger spread of contributors from his young Blues in 2019.

"This group, to move forward, will need have to have each other's back, they can't rely on March Murphy or Patrick Cripps," Bolton said.

"We've had a philosophy all season of 'us, not me'.

Marc Murphy will celebrate a personal milestone against Richmond, with the former skipper set to run out for the club for the 250th time.

"I'm really, really proud of Marc Murphy," Bolton said.

"He's been a number one draft pick, he's faced external scrutiny, he's faced injury, he's played when it's been a difficult time over a number of years for Carlton…"

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