In an age that demands patience around the development of key-position players, Jacob Weitering’s seamless transition into the elite level is one that’s rarely seen.
After being selected with the first pick in the 2015 draft, Weitering has made an immediate impression on the rebuilding Carlton team, showing experience beyond his years during the first three rounds.
The 18-year-old has collected 17, 15 and 26 disposals respectively while matching up on the likes of Jack Riewoldt, Lance Franklin and Gold Coast’s Tom Lynch and playing in an area of the ground where the Blues have been under siege over the past two weeks.
It’s uncommon to see such a highly-touted key position defender making an impact in his debut season and Weitering’s form early in his career stacks up against some of the game’s best defenders.
Daniel Talia (2012) and Jared Rivers (2004) both won the Rising Star award, but both had a year under their belts after being drafted into the AFL system.
Harry Taylor’s debut season in 2008 was solid but he made his Geelong debut at age 21, while Alex Rance – currently regarded as the game’s leading defender – had a full year in the VFL before breaking into the Richmond line-up in 2009. All-Australian defenders Cale Hooker and Michael Hurley took a little more time to develop into elite players at Essendon.
“He strikes me as a lad who would want to make his own mark.”
– Peter Dean
Weitering received his Round 3 Rising Star nomination leading several statistical categories for the Blues: equal-first for total marks, first for contested grabs and fourth for rebounds.
He also received his first coaches’ vote after collecting 26 disposals, five rebounds and three contested marks in the 54-point loss to the Suns last weekend.
Former Carlton premiership defender Peter Dean said Weitering’s traits have helped him transition smoothly into the AFL ranks.
“At 195cm and 90kg he moves very well, seems like he has a cool, calm manner about him and doesn’t get flustered easily,” Dean told Aflplayers.com.au.
“It’s still early days and he needs to perform consistently. But from what I can see and hear by reading between the lines is his standing in the club is pretty good. He’s all about his footy and I think that’s what the club needs – a steady influence.
“Looking from afar, it seems what he says would really be listened to by his teammates. He strikes me as a lad who would want to make his own mark.”
Weitering is the 28th Blue to be nominated for the Rising Star award since the award’s inception in 1993. He also joins teammates Dylan Buckley, Troy Menzel and Patrick Cripps as the club’s fourth nominee since the start of 2014.
The Blues are one of four AFL clubs yet to have a Rising Star winner, with Patrick Cripps finishing runner-up in last year’s award.
— Ciaran Byrne (@Ciaran_Byrne94) April 11, 2016
Total club Rising Star nominations:
Essendon – 37
Melbourne – 37
West Coast – 35
Collingwood – 34
Brisbane Lions – 34
Hawthorn – 33
Western Bulldogs – 33
Richmond – 32
Geelong – 29
Fremantle – 28
Carlton – 28
Port Adelaide – 27
Adelaide – 26
North Melbourne – 23
St Kilda – 23
Sydney – 23
GWS Giants – 14
Gold Coast – 11
Fitzroy – 6
Brisbane Bears – 5