Crow Call – Round One (v GWS Giants)

The Team – (From)-

FB 29 Rory Laird 12 Daniel Talia 16 Luke Brown

HB 8 Jake Kelly 15 Kyle Hartigan 33 Brodie Smith

C 14 David Mackay 44 Matt Crouch 9 Rory Sloane

HF 18 Eddie Betts 13 Taylor Walker 27 Tom Lynch

F 24 Sam Jacobs 26 Richard Douglas 21 Rory Atkins

FF 23 Charlie Cameron 4 Josh Jenkins 41 Mitch McGovern

Interchange –
3 Riley Knight
17 Curtly Hampton
22 Andy Otten
30 Wayne Milera
31 Myles Poholke
32 Troy Menzel
43 Reilly O’Brien

After a long summer, the AFL is finally back. It kicks off tonight with the traditional opener from the MCG between Richmond and Carlton. For Adelaide it all gets underway with a home game against GWS at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday. A partly cloudy top of 33 degrees is forecast to kick off the season at a packed Adelaide Oval. Sunny conditions and a clash of two teams predicted to do good things in 2017. It does not get much better than this.

Taylor Walker and Rory Sloane have both been named in the squad of 25, which will obviously be trimmed to 22 tomorrow afternoon. I dare say we will get a good idea of Walker’s availability tomorrow depending on how he pulls up after today’s main training session. Rory Sloane should play and in an interesting call Riley Knight has also been named. That may be cover for Sloane, but Knight and Myles Poholke are probably fighting for that last spot. Troy Menzel would drop out if Walker plays you suspect and it is hard to see Reilly O’Brien playing this one, but no doubt his time will come this year. The non-selection of Jake Lever is puzzling, but Jake Kelly and Andy Otten have both been in good form, so plenty of cover there.

Scott Thompson will return through the SANFL trial game on Saturday morning and all going well, Brad Crouch will return the same way next weekend. Lever, Dean Gore and Jono Beech will come back from injury as well on Saturday. Slowly, but surely that pre-season injury list is coming down. It would be good to see Kyle Cheney find some form and push for selection, but he has not been named at either level indicating a further injury setback perhaps? On that note, another week has gone by and again no injury list produced by the club. Disappointing. Where is Paul Seedsman? How far away is he?

Curtly Hampton makes his debut for Adelaide, which given his form across the JLT Community Series is well deserved. He has to have a big year in the middle to ensure supply is plentiful for Adelaide’s forward line this year. He can also go back, which could allow Rory Laird and Brodie Smith some time through the middle too.

The midfield battle (we say this every week) is where this one will be won or lost. It is such a great unknown for Adelaide this year and I suspect there will still be plenty of experimenting with players as the season goes along. It is great to see Sloane back, but how match-hardened is he? After his third facial injury in the space of a couple of years, does this hamper his confidence at all? Brad Crouch will be a welcome return in the middle in the next few weeks.

A key component that was very noticeable at times during Adelaide’s JLT Series campaign was their tackling and pressure. If Adelaide tackle and pressure well, generally they win. If this can become more consistent in season 2017, it may make up a little bit for the lack of big name talent throughout the midfield. The pressure level will be something to take note of on Sunday against a team who play tough hard footy.

The Giants are highly fancied by many to win the flag this year and with the talent on their list, if they do not finish in the top one or two in 2017, that would be a failure. Adelaide do not have to travel to Sydney during the home and away season this year, which could be good, given Spotless Stadium might be an absolute fortress again for the Giants and the Swans away from home looks to be a tough task as well.

Adelaide Oval awaits the Giants however this weekend. Last year they lost to Melbourne in the opening game away from home, so this one is no tick just yet. They’re also missing arguably their best midfielder in Stephen Coniglio. I think though that with an underdone Rory Sloane and a few niggles here and there, Adelaide are in for the fight of their lives on Sunday afternoon. It has not been the perfect pre-season and I feel it will be a few weeks before Adelaide really hit their full potential. The Giants looked really strong during the JLT Series and I expect them to pick up from where they left off at the end of last year.

Regardless, footy is back and for the next 27 weeks, anything could happen! Go Crows!

Tip –
Giants by 12 points.

Weather –
Partly Cloudy 33

Game Info – 
Adelaide v GWS
Sunday March 26 – 2.50pm (local time) Adelaide Oval

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.

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