Naming an unchanged side after a 43-point belting isn’t a sign that Carlton don’t have strength in their AFL list.
It is, according to coach Brendon Bolton, a statement of faith in the young guns at the Blues.
Whether that’s a sign that Carlton are content with developing players in 2017 rather than challenging for the top end of the table will depend on whether that faith is misplaced.
But Carlton are unlikely to get any favours from a red-hot Melbourne when they meet on Sunday at the MCG.
Bolton says he resisted the urge to make changes, including a debut to young forward Harry McKay, because he wanted to give his team another chance.
“We didn’t want to make rushed decisions after one game with a young side,” Bolton said.
“We’ve got some young depth.
“(Cameron) Polsen. (Nick) Graham. (Zac) Fisher. (Sam) Kerridge. And McKay.
“But we want to give our guys an opportunity to apply their learning and grow from their experience.”
McKay’s case for inclusion seemed rock solid after kicking 4.3 for the Blues’ reserves side.
Bolton is resisting the temptation to blood the 19-year-old before he’s ready, after a back injury wrecked his first year at the club.
“He was drafted virtually as a 17-year-old and missed last year so he’s a bit like a first year player,” Bolton said.
“He’s literally getting hundreds of balls kicked into his hands. We’ll see him debut at some stage this year.”
The second-season coach offered a tip of the hat to the Demons, who appear to be on the other side of a rebuild.
“They’ve gone to the draft and built depth over time so they’re going to be sustainably strong for a while,” Bolton said.
“They didn’t try and quick fix it.
“They’ve worked hard on the contested side of their game.
“They’re going to be a big contest. We need to play tough footy.”
The Demons have made two forced changes from their round one side that beat St Kilda by five goals.
Joel Smith (shoulder) and Bernie Vince (suspended) drop out of the side, with Dom Tyson and James Harmes coming in.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Blues have won four of the last five over Melbourne – including a surprising round 22 success last year that ended the Demons’ hopes of playing finals.
“The game changes so quickly (but) if theres a one per cent in that, that we won last time and it’s in the players’ psychology, we’ll take that,” Bolton said.