Craig kids kick on: Crows pre-draft

In the first of a club-by-club series, we look at the Adelaide list prior to the 2009 AFL National Draft.

Adelaide Crows Training Session

ADELAIDE
Live selections: 13, 29, 45, 61
Rookie promotion selections: 74 (Brodie Martin)

The Crows made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear in 2009 when they turned their list’s obvious weakness in the small forward area into a strength, with the emergence of Chris Knights and Patrick Dangerfield into not only 22-worthy players in the position, but in Knights’ case an outside chance at All-Australian selection. Along with Jason Porplyzia, that is not a problem for this club any more.

As of now, there is not a glaring weakness at Westlakes like there was this time last year. The problems for the Crows are now more in depth. Neil Craig must be commended for his conversion of Dangerfield, Andy Otten and Taylor Walker into every-week starters, but he still stands accused of not giving first-year players enough of a taste of the big time in their debut season, with Jared Petrenko being a case in point as Craig tried to convert him into a small defender. Andrew McLeod was already on his last legs this year, and I fear for the club that his bone-on-bone knees are not going to survive the pincushion effect of jab after jab to get him through one last full campaign. Graham Johncock is no spring chicken either, and as that gasping bloke on the telly keeps telling us, all heavy smokers have the beginnings of emphysema. Apart from Brad Symes, the Crows look a little light on in the running defender department, with Rory Sloane almost as raw as Petrenko. Elsewhere in their defence, the Crows delisted Greg Gallman and Aaron Kite in their tall defender ranks, though with Nathan Bock, Ben Rutten and Andy Otten supported by Scott Stevens and with last year’s first-rounder Phil Davis coming through, they are still fairly strong there.

The major spot where the Crows have lost out in this year’s delistings is in the tagger position, where Robert Shirley felt the final sting in Craig’s painfully obvious disdain for his abilities. Michael Doughty was used in the second half of 2009 as an attacking tagger and had some very good games, though the likes of Gary Ablett jnr and Chris Judd still rate Shirley as one of the toughest taggers they have faced. With Richard Douglas pinch-hitting as a forward tagger being the only other established option, I feel that the delisting of Shirley could leave the Adelaide list a touch exposed when facing the supercharged midfields which need a lot of close-checking attention. If 2009 in anything to go by, though, Neil Craig will have a solution for this sooner rather than later, and probably from an unexpected source.

In the midfield, the big fantasy story of 2009 was the emergence of Bernie Vince, which was a fairly straightforward result of the shifting roles of the more aged champions of seasons past into positions on the field that didn’t require quite as much exertion. David Mackay, while not as much of a fantasy star as Vince due to his tricky price at the start of the year, also enjoyed a 20-plus-point improvement in his DT average. Nathan Van Berlo was the odd man out, playing all but one game but actually lowering his average by seven points. Led ably by Scott Thompson, the inside midfield brigade is populated mostly by these younger types, while on the outside it’s the more senior brigade of Simon Goodwin, Tyson Edwards, Doughty and Brent Reilly (who played older than his 27 years in ’09). Adelaide could probably do with one or two more young running types, although the smart move is probably to stow a SANFL special away on the rookie list and wait for the free upgrade halfway through the year.

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