Carlton defender Jacob Weitering says Blues are eyeing AFL finals in 2021 | Ralph Lauren

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Star defender Jacob Weitering says Carlton won’t shy away from rising external expectations as they chase a long-awaited AFL finals appearance in 2021.

The Blues have been through a long rebuild and enter their second full season under David Teague buoyed by a club-record number of members, with more than 67,000 signing on.

Carlton also announced this month they are now debt-free for the first time in 25 years.

Jacob Weitering won Carlton’s best and fairest last season.
Camera IconJacob Weitering won Carlton’s best and fairest last season. Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images via AFL Photos

The next step, according to best-and-fairest winner Jacob Weitering, is snapping a seven-year finals drought as the Blues chase a premiership by 2023 under their five-year strategic plan.

“I don’t think it’s any surprise that we’re looking towards September and that’s what we want to aim towards,” Weitering said.

“We’re looking to continue what we built on last year and that’s building a really strong, competitive brand of football.

“We had some really good games and had a lot of tight contests and swings in games that probably didn’t go our way.

“We’ve focused a little bit on that and we’ve got a lot of guys that are really motivated to play some good football this year and it’s going to be really exciting.”

Weitering is excited by the prospect of lining up alongside boom recruits Adam Saad and Zac Williams, with the Blues set to field a strong side in Thursday’s practice match against Essendon.

Williams is set to play mostly through the midfield this season, while Saad adds some welcome speed to the half-backline.

The former Bombers dasher joins a settled defence led by Weitering and Liam Jones.

“His pre-season has been flawless,” Weitering said of Saad.

“It’s very exciting having a guy like that – he certainly moves quicker than me so I’ll just be handpassing it off to him.

“He’s been a great addition to the team on the field, but off the field he’s told his story, what his culture is and how his family operates and it’s been a real freshen-up for the boys.

“He’s really well-liked by the group.”

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