It’s a milestone that’s perhaps flown under the radar, but one that’s well-deserving of a tribute, as Carlton’s Jacob Weitering brings up his milestone 100th AFL game against Essendon on Sunday.
Recruited to the Blues with the first pick of the 2015 draft, he debuted immediately in round one of 2016 and didn’t have to wait long before receiving official recognition of his talent, receiving a Rising Star nomination just three games into his career.
A game which has since remained his career-high for disposals, Weitering collected 17 kicks, nine handballs, and nine marks to receive the plaudit in a 54-point loss to the Gold Coast Suns, emblematic of his dependability despite the Blues’ struggles.
And it’s certainly not to say he’s less notable when the team is succeeding either, gathering 24 disposals – 16 of which were kicks – and 14 marks a few rounds later in a 38-point win over Brisbane.
Weitering would go on to average 14.5 disposals and 5.3 marks from the 20 games he played in his first season, foreshadowing the consistency and proficiency that has been a hallmark of his first 99 games.
Again in 2017, he continued to develop, averaging 13.7 disposals and 5.5 marks, and upheld those numbers the following year, despite a few roadblocks during the season.
Weitering in 2018 missed a handful of games through injury and returned through the VFL, which was a ‘punch in the gut,’ he said on SEN’s Whateley, but on reflection, a release of the personal pressure of being a number one pick.
Another consistent season in 2019 netted Weitering a sixth-place finish in Carlton’s John Nicholls medal, as well as the ‘Spirit of Carlton’ award, a recognition of his ability to display the Spirit of being a Bluebagger on and off the field.
This was again rewarded by his elevation to the Blues’ leadership group before the 2020 season, a season in which Weitering certainly displayed his leadership and integrality to the Carlton lineup.
Playing all 17 games, Weitering averaged 11.1 disposals and 3.4 marks, displaying his defensive prowess to also average 5.6 intercept possessions, 7.5 one-percenters, and 3.7 rebound 50s per game.
He also claimed some of the biggest scalps defensively, keeping eventual Coleman Medalist Tom Hawkins to two goals, as well as two of the game’s biggest spearheads in Tom Lynch and Jeremy Cameron goalless, among others.
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Weitering’s consistency and effort were rewarded post-season as he was named in the All-Australian squad of 40, and appointed vice-captain along with his third 22-Under-22 gong.
The ultimate honour for Weitering though was his first John Nicholls Medal as Carlton’s best and fairest, rewarded for an outstanding and consistent 2020 season.
The honour speaks volumes of Weitering’s importance to the Carlton side, and was a welcome reward for his effort.
Ahead of his 100th AFL match which will come against Essendon this Sunday, Weitering has undoubtedly established himself as a key staple in Carlton’s side, and one of its most important players.
Weitering is ranked first in the AFL for one-percenters, sixth for rebound 50s, and 13th for intercepts, ranking him among the most prolific defenders in the competition.
And remarkably, he sits first in the competition for defensive one-on-one contests with 41 and has lost just 19.5% of those, the fifth-lowest percentage of any player who has contested in 25 or more.
There’s no doubt Weitering is a classy, composed player, but even as his individual status grows among the competition, he’s undoubtedly invested in the future of the Blues.
And as Weitering cracks the milestone of 100 AFL games this weekend, his side will be at the front of mind – as he said on Whateley – “An individual accolade came about last year which was awesome, but the end result – the goal for me – is team success.”
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