The 2017 AFL Season is only a month away. This year we have had a taste of AFL action early with the AFLW dominating the news cycle over the last few weeks. The JLT Community Series kicked off last week, but Adelaide will finally get their turn to begin the 2017 campaign on Friday night against Richmond at Etihad Stadium.
So what are we wanting to see from Adelaide in 2017? After two unsuccessful Semi Final losses, the logical next step would be to go at least go one better than that. The off-season saw the loss of Jarryd Lyons to the Gold Coast Suns, the failure to secure a deal with Bryce Gibbs and another niggling injury to Brad Crouch. Rory Sloane will also miss the JLT Series with a fractured eye socket. Last year was the best year injury wise for Adelaide ever and a repeat of that is highly, highly unlikely, as we have seen already. So given that, is a Preliminary Final or even a Grand Final possible for Adelaide in 2017? Anything is possible at this time of the year and the Western Bulldogs have proven that anything is possible at any time of the year really. You feel though that Adelaide have a handful of players who need to go from being potentially good players to actually good players for success to come this year. This might also have to be at the expense of a few club favourites as well. We will get to that as the year progresses.
The theme coming out of West Lakes over the last few months has been around versatility and having players who are able to fill more than one role. The opening JLT Series game sees Adelaide blooding some younger talent with a serious audition process in place for round one midfield spots. There is a particular search for players who can run through the midfield, but also spend time in the forward and back lines if required. With Sloane, Crouch and Scott Thompson (shoulder) in serious doubt for the season opener, spots in the midfield have really opened up. Harrison Wigg, Cam Ellis-Yolmen, Matt Crouch, Wayne Milera and Charlie Cameron are just a few who could all seal up a round one spot with a quality JLT Series and increased midfield minutes. Milera aside, all have been around long enough now be able to take their games to another level.
It is great to see Andy Otten back out there. People forget how pivotal a player he has been for Adelaide before injury. Adelaide confirmed today that he has made the final 26. Otten could still yet prove to be useful in 2017 in a variety of positions, which as mentioned, are the type of player Adelaide wants. Also back on the park are Troy Menzel and Curtly Hampton who both hopefully have points to prove this season. Adelaide did not acquire any ready-made talent in the off-season, but given these two names did not play one AFL game between them in 2016, you could argue that they are almost new recruits for the Crows anyway. Up and running, Menzel could add yet another dimension to an already elite forward line. While Hampton has expressed his desire to move into the midfield. If he is good enough, he very well could do that.
New draftee Myles Poholke pulls on an Adelaide jumper for the first time on Friday night, with fellow draftee Jordan Gallucci to debut next week. Riley Knight joins Gallucci in having his minutes managed early in the JLT Series. Knight was such a fantastic addition at the end of 2015 and while injury ruined his 2016 season, you feel we are yet to see the best from this young man either.
Another elite midfielder would not have hurt the Crows in their quest for a premiership, but despite this they should not go miles backwards. There is plenty of upside for Adelaide this year if the names spoken about can get an injury free year and the chance to show what they have got. The bottom line is that for Adelaide to be successful, some of Adelaide’s untried talent and those who have been on the list for a while each need to improve, which can then add up to making up for the lack of another elite midfielder.
So predictions in a pre-season match are never easy, so we will not make them, but Crows fans want to see some change and versatility in the game plan and some midfield personnel answers across not just this game, but through the whole JLT Series. It will be a do or die year for many on Adelaide’s list this year, so some quality minutes to those who need to prove what they can do will be must watch viewing over the next three weeks.
Bring on the footy!
The Team – (to be trimmed to 26 before the bounce)
Wayne Milera Junior
Game Info –
Richmond v Adelaide
Friday February 24 – 7.40pm (local time) Etihad Stadium
The Crow Call will be published every Thursday during the AFL Season. Join in the conversation with me on all things Crows on Twitter @liamthompson1.