Footy world reacts to Hawthorn’s alarming low vs Adelaide Crows


Something has to give at Hawthorn after the AFL powerhouse slumped to an alarming low on Tuesday night.

Adelaide beat Alastair Clarkson’s men 12.11 (83) to 7.6 (48) to record its first win of the season and the Hawks were roundly condemned for failing to land a meaningful punch in the fight against the bottom-of-the-ladder Crows.

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Hawthorn is 15th and has won just four games all year, sparking calls for a rebuild.

AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson had his say at halftime in last night’s match, when the Crows went into the sheds with a 15-point advantage.

“Hawthorn supporters would be sitting at home right now thinking, ‘What is going on?’” Robinson said on Fox Footy.

“If they go on to lose this game, I think this is a real crossroads game for the football club.

“Whatever they’ve got planned, they’ve got to bring this forward. They’ve been beaten up by a team that is the worst at beating up opposition teams this year.

“They’ve been smashed.

“Watching the game, they (the Crows) are harder at the contest … this team is one of the worst contested ball teams in the competition, Adelaide, and they are dishing it up to Hawthorn.”

Essendon legend Tim Watson highlighted Hawthorn’s lack of explosiveness in the midfield as a key reason for its failure to match it with other sides in 2020.

“Hawthorn were found wanting. Their inability to be able to spread — that’s got to be a real concern for them right across the ground, in particular their midfield,” Watson said on SEN Breakfast.

“They’ve got to be able to re-engineer the make-up of their midfield and that’s not easy to find the talent that can go in there and compete with the best teams.

“They’re good players inside but they don’t spread enough and quickly enough to match teams that have speed in their side.

“They’ve got to try and recruit that or draft that into their team.”

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Melbourne great Garry Lyon said the Crows were hungrier than their opposition. “They just played better. They were much better in the contest, they out-numbered Hawthorn nearly everywhere,” he told SEN.

Social media was also abuzz. Matt Smithson tweeted: “Can’t believe Hawthorn lost to a previously winless Adelaide. Gee whiz.”

Footy writer Ashley Browne said: “And like that, Hawthorn becomes a big, big story of the next few months. How they deal with it — president, board, coaches, players and fans will be fascinating. Fans have had it so good. Need to take their medicine now.”

Despite the outside noise about Hawthorn needing a major revamp, Clarkson isn’t panicking and won’t accept it’s all doom and gloom.

“When did you think the Bulldogs piece of silverware was going to come in 2015,” he told reporters when asked when he could envisage Hawthorn winning another premiership.

“What about Richmond? What about Hawthorn in 2006, 2007, when did you think theirs was going to come? When did you think Hawthorn’s was going to come when we were 1-6 in 2010 and played off in a prelim final next year?

“The game can turn very, very quickly … right now it just seems like we’re a world away from that, but it turns.”

The veteran coach has always preferred trading in recognised talent rather than rebuilding at the draft — and he took aim at the “compromised” system after the loss to Adelaide, saying it’s not as easy to rebuild with young stocks as people think.

“When people say why don’t you just rebuild and go to the draft — you can’t go to the draft, it’s so compromised,” he said.

“You have to do it with other mechanisms like free agency and the depth of your rookie list.”

Clarkson was also pragmatic with his take on where the Hawks are now, saying the cyclical nature of footy may have finally caught up with the club that won four premierships between 2008-2015.

“We’re quite realistic. There’s a couple of clubs that sit 15th and 16th on the ladder that have been stellar clubs in this competition for a long time and that’s Sydney and Hawthorn,” Clarkson said.

“Part of it is just the cycle of footy unfortunately. Both us and Sydney have been clubs that haven’t wanted to get into this position on the ladder and perhaps if not for the circumstances we’re in we might not be that low either.

“We started the season 3-1 and we feel like we’re a better side … what this year has done is perhaps fast-track our views into where our next piece of silverware is going to come from.

“We need to give some young guys some opportunity and we’re starting to do that, but we just don’t have the belief that you throw 10 or 12 young kids to the wolves straight away. We’ll just do it bit by bit when we think they’re ready.”



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Adelaide Crows score first win of 2020 AFL season, beating Hawthorn by 35 points


Adelaide has won its first game of the 2020 AFL season, with its 35-point win over Hawthorn ending a losing streak that has lasted longer than a year.

The Crows last won a game on August 3 last year, when they trumped St Kilda by 22 points in round 20.

They finished that season with three straight losses and had a 0-13 win-loss record for this year heading into the clash with the Hawks at Adelaide Oval, but they ultimately ended the 395-day drought with a 12.11 (83) to 7.6 (48) win.

Adelaide brought the intensity from the start of the game against fellow strugglers Hawthorn, which is stuck at 15th with just four wins.

A seven-point first-quarter lead should have been bigger, but the Crows were typically wayward in front of goal, kicking 2.4 in the first term.

The radar was more accurate in the second quarter and Adelaide went into half-time with a 6.6 (42) to 4.3 (27) lead.

The last-placed Crows had only led one other game after two quarters this season, when they were up by nine points against Collingwood in round 11, only for the Magpies to run them down and win by 24 points.

Keen to avoid a repeat of that night, the Crows came out of the long break with back-to-back goals from Ben Keays and Harry Schoenberg.

They never relented and racked up their highest points tally since round one, when they scored 71 in a three-point loss to Sydney.

In a victory dominated by the team’s young guns, it was former captain Taylor Walker who ended the game with his second goal, moving within one goal of Tony Modra’s all-time record of 440 majors for the club.

Highlighting how long it has been between drinks for the Crows, it was the first win for four players — Schoenberg, Keays, Shane McAdam and Lachlan Scholl — who were all pushed into the middle of the circle during the team song.

They were joined by rookie coach Matthew Nicks, who received the Gatorade shower traditionally reserved for grand final winners.

The victory ensured they would not become the first team to go through a season without a win since 1964, when Fitzroy went 0-18.

Eagles fly into top four

The Eagles leapfrogged Richmond into fourth place on the ladder.(AAP: Darren England)

West Coast is back in the top four thanks to a 15-point win over Essendon for their first victory back in the Queensland hub.

With Josh Kennedy out with a concussion, Liam Ryan starred up front for the Eagles with four goals in the 9.6 (60) to 6.9 (45) win at the Gabba.

West Coast had enjoyed an eight-game winning streak back in Perth before crashing back to reality with a loss to Richmond on Thursday that pushed them out of the home finals spots.

That winning run came after a 2-3 win-loss record during West Coast’s last stay in the Queensland hub from round two to round six.

Meanwhile, Essendon still has a chance to make the finals, sitting just two points behind three teams on 28, but missed a chance to leapfrog all three — the Bulldogs, Giants and Demons — and into the last finals spot.



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Live AFL 2020, Hawthorn vs Adelaide Crows, Round 15 | Live scores, updates, stats, video, live blog, live stream


Adelaide is threatening to make Hawthorn the answer to a trivia question, holding a healthy second half lead in their bid to record a first win of the season.

The Hawks (4-9, 82.6%) have lost their last four matches, including last week’s awful collapse from a six-goal halftime lead over Essendon, and strangely are hosting this game at Adelaide’s home ground.

The Crows (0-13, 54.9%) are desperately trying to avoid the first winless season in the VFL/AFL since Fitzroy in 1964.

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Round 15

Huge bump ‘breaks’ Glass

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Adelaide Crows player Tyson Stengle trains instead of facing court for alleged drink driving



The Adelaide Crows have defended young forward Tyson Stengle after he trained with the side this morning, at the same time his drink-driving case was going before an Adelaide court.

Stengle was reported for drink driving in April after he was stopped by police in Adelaide’s south-western suburbs.

At the time, the club said the 21-year-old was also in an unregistered car and “recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.125”.

The Crows subsequently imposed a four-match ban.

Stengle’s first appearance was scheduled to occur in the Adelaide Magistrates Court at 10:00am, but he did not attend.

His lawyer unsuccessfully tried to enter a plea without him present, and the matter has now been adjourned until October.

The Crows are due to face Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval tomorrow and Stengle trained with the club this morning.

Crows coach Matthew Nicks did not comment on the court proceedings, but reaffirmed his club’s support for Stengle.

Nicks also declined to comment when asked whether Stengle had opted not to attend court to avoid breaching AFL coronavirus protocols.

“Part of our job is to help Tyson through it,” Nicks said.

When asked why Stengle did not attend court, Nicks said that was a question for “his legal representation or manager”.

Nicks said he did not know what plea Stengle intended to enter.

“It’s not something I should talk on. It’s a legal matter and it wouldn’t be right for me to make comment,” he said.

“I don’t have an involvement in the case.”



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Bookies think Adelaide Crows will go winless this season


Despite a spirited performance against Geelong last Sunday afternoon at the Adelaide Oval, the Crows are still winless in the 2020 home-and-away season and are $1.65 at TAB to not secure a victory this year.

In the opening round, Adelaide suffered a three-point loss to Sydney at home and since then, the best opportunity to claim a win was in Round 8 when the Crows lost by three points to Essendon at the Adelaide Oval.

If Adelaide are to break through for a victory in the 2020 home-and-away season after their Round 14 bye, the Round 15 encounter against Hawthorn at the Adelaide Oval next Tuesday night is considered their best chance as they are $5 hopes at TAB.

TAB ODDS
Adelaide’s First Win in 2020

$2.15     Adelaide wins a game

$1.65     Adelaide does not win a game

$5           Round 15 versus Hawthorn

$8.50     Round 16 versus GWS

$7           Round 17 versus Carlton

$15         Round 18 versus Richmond

$1.65     Adelaide does not win a game





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Brisbane Lions record two-point AFL win against St Kilda as Adelaide Crows lose to Geelong


Wayward kicking has not been enough to deny Brisbane a two-point victory over St Kilda at the Gabba, with the Lions moving back to second place on the AFL ladder.

The Lions triumphed 6.14 (50) to 7.6 (48) in the Sir Doug Nicholls Round encounter, despite scoring just one point in a tense final term in front of 13,750 nervous spectators.

Earlier on Sunday, Geelong was given a scare by the winless Crows before winning by 28 points at Adelaide Oval.

At the Gabba, Eric Hipwood took eight marks but let himself down with the boot, opting to go short with his first set-shot in a preference that appeared to set the tone for the afternoon.

He finished with three behinds and another set-shot that fell short, a worrying trend that allowed St Kilda to close within 10 points at the final change.

Saints forward Jack Billings squeezed a goal from close range to make it a three-point match, with Zak Jones’s behind being the final score of the match as the Lions’ defence scrambled well in the closing minutes.

Zac Bailey and Jarrod Berry (20 disposals, two goals) did the heavy lifting early with Lachie Neale and Dayne Zorko kept quiet.

Seb Ross did the job on Neale, who still finished with 19 touches, and Jack Steele (25 touches, 17 contested, 10 tackles) was allowed to run his own race for St Kilda.

Ryan Lester, Brandon Starcevich and Harris Andrews were solid in Brisbane’s backline, while Jones, Brad Hill and Dan Butler (two goals) threatened for St Kilda.

The win keeps the Saints on the outside of the top four ahead of their clash with Melbourne next Saturday, while the Lions — second on percentage behind Port Adelaide — do not play again until September 4.

Geelong survives stern test

The Cats entered the match against the winless Crows as heavy favourites.

But it took a final-quarter goal from Tom Hawkins and two more in the dying stages from Mitch Duncan for the visitors to finally break clear in a 9.11 (65) to 5.7 (37) victory at Adelaide Oval.

In the wake of Brisbane’s win, the Cats are placed third on the ladder, four points adrift of the top two teams.

Coleman Medal leader Hawkins finished with three goals, taking his tally to 33 in 13 matches this season.

Midfield stars Cam Guthrie (33 disposals), Patrick Dangerfield (27), Jack Steven and Sam Menegola (both 24) were all prominent in the Cats’ fourth consecutive victory.

Rhys Stanley kicked two goals while splitting ruck duties with Mark Blicavs and Esava Ratugolea.

Two Geelong AFL players give each other a high five as they celebrate a goal against the Adelaide Crows.
Tom Hawkins (left) produced a three-goal effort in the Cats’ triumph over the Crows.(AAP: David Mariuz)

Former Adelaide captain Taylor Walker provided early energy for the Crows in his 200th AFL match but finished with just three disposals amid lingering questions over his playing future beyond this season.

Geelong led for most of the first half but were unable to break clear of an Adelaide side on a 15-match losing streak and still searching for its first win under coach Matthew Nicks.

Soon after half time, goal sneak Shane McAdam beat three Cats opponents inside the forward 50 to scramble through his first AFL goal and drag the Crows to within two points.

Scores were level moments later but Cats speedster Gary Rohan wrested back momentum for the visitors with a goal on the run and Hawkins soon made it a 15-point buffer.

David Mackay’s goal after the three-quarter time siren gave Adelaide a sniff but the Cats withstood the challenge with three goals to none in the final term.

Matt Crouch was the Crows’ best with 22 disposals and 14 tackles, while Rory Laird (28 possessions) and Brodie Smith (21) were busy around the ball.

AAP/ABC



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Adelaide Crows fight hard but Geelong Cats take four points


The Crows’ pressure was hot early and rarely relented, Geelong made to work hard for their four points.

After a bumpy start, the Cats threatened several times to take the match away from Adelaide, with Cam Guthrie and Sam Menegola continuing their career-best run of form, Jack Steven running hard both ways and Mark Blicavs providing mismatches all over the ground.

Hawkins battles with Kyle Hartigan.Credit:Getty Images

Even with captain Joel Selwood sidelined, Geelong still looked to have too much class and cattle.
It took a long time for the Crows’ wall to burst, but it finally did, late in the fourth quarter.

Adelaide kept Geelong at arm’s length, trailing by 11 points at quarter-time and seven at half-time, before drawing level early in the third thanks chiefly to some wizardry from Shane McAdam, who goaled after bursting through a one-on-three against Jack Henry, Mark O’Connor and Lachie Henderson.

David Mackay’s goal after the three-quarter-time siren pegged the Cats’ advantage back to nine points – but it was Adelaide’s last hurrah.

Coleman Medal leader Tom Hawkins finally unshackled himself from Kyle Hartigan’s iron grip with an improved second half, Dangerfield twice set up Mitch Duncan for late goals as the margin swelled beyond what reflected a truly befitting scoreline.

DANGER SIGNS

Geelong weathered Adelaide’s initial storm but should have led by more than 11 points at quarter-time, but for Patrick Dangerfield’s indecision and Luke Brown’s desperation on the last line.

On target for his lowest goal-kicking return since his rookie 2008 campaign with Adelaide, Dangerfield entered the clash against his old side with a 6.12 return on the season, with nine misses from his previous 11 shots at goal.

One of football’s most confident players, Dangerfield appears to have lost his verve in front of the sticks.

The acting captain broke clear and surged into attack with Brown in hot pursuit late in the first term, closing to 35 metres where he avoided having a shot, instead miscuing a low, squirting kick intended for Hawkins.

Dangerfield got the 1-2 back from Hawkins but was tackled by Brown in the goalsquare, three seconds out from the quarter-time siren, fluffing a golden opportunity to push the Cats further clear.

THE ULTIMATE MR VERSATILE

With his unfair combination of size, mobility and endurance, Blicavs proved a nightmare match-up for the Crows all over the park.

The 198cm Blicavs spent time at centre-half-back in the absence of Harry Taylor (managed), took the occasional ruck tap, lined up on a wing and was dangerous when he drifted into attack.

Blicav’s go-ahead goal midway through the first term came courtesy of a free kick against the desperately outmatched Lachlan Murphy.

Blicavs then moved into the middle and onto Sloane where his tackle forced a holding the ball decision against the Crows skipper and set up a major to Rhys Stanley.

In the fourth quarter, Blicavs then tagged the dangerous Laird, quelling the Crows danger man’s influence.

ADELAIDE
1.3 3.4 5.6 5.7 (37)
GEELONG
3.2 4.5 6.9 9.11 (65)

GOALS
Adelaide: Schoenberg, Mackay, Sloane, McAdam, Stengle
Geelong: Hawkins 3, Duncan 2, Stanley 2, Blicavs, Rohan

BEST
Adelaide: Laird, M. Crouch, O’Brien, Murphy, Keays
Geelong: Guthrie, Steven, Blicavs, Menegola, Duncan, Dangerfield

UMPIRES
Fisher, Gianfagna, Wallace

VENUE
Adelaide Oval

CROWD
10431

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Adelaide Crows v Geelong Cats, Brisbane Lions v St Kilda Saints, West Coast Eagles v GWS Giants


Follow the action from Sunday’s three AFL games.

First up, the winless Crows host the in-form Cats at Adelaide Oval from 1.05pm AEST. Click here for live scores and stats.

Next, the Lions meet the Saints at the Gabba from 3.35pm AEST. Click here for live scores and stats.

And the Eagles and the Giants end the day’s action at Optus Stadium from 6.10pm AEST. Click here for live scores and stats.



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Rebuilding the Crows: the unthinkable becomes the strategy



Rebuild was once a dirty word at the Adelaide Football Club – now it is a prime strategy for the Crows list-management and recruiting team. Michelangelo Rucci looks at the rewards and risks.

“Times change,” the Adelaide Football Club repeatedly responds when challenged to explain a shift in policy.

But these are uncertain times for change, particularly when there are so many unanswered questions on how the 18 AFL clubs are to operate beyond the cash stripping from the COVID pandemic.

The Crows are in a rebuild… “an aggressive rebuild,” says board member and list-management committee chairman Mark Ricciuto.

There was a time when Adelaide – and many other AFL clubs and senior coaches – would avoid the “r” word. “Rebuild” leaves the impression of long, depressing winters watching an uncompetitive football team struggle to avoid a bottom-four finish.

This is the Adelaide Football Club 2020. Winless after 12 matches for the first time in its 30-year story in the big league. Destined to hold its first wooden spoon – and a bottom-four finish for just the second time, following the 14th placing among 17 in 2011 when the Crows won just seven of 22 matches and Neil Craig departed as coach.

This was when Craig – and the Crows management and advocates, such as Ricciuto – would bark “cop out” to describe rebuilds, the concept based on falling to the bottom of the AFL ladder to collect prime draft picks.

“We don’t believe there is another way to do it,” says Ricciuto today. “You need to get quality draft picks into your club to form the nucleus of your side…”

The alternative – looking for missing pieces of the list-management jigsaw puzzle in the free-agency and trade market – is less attractive.

Port Adelaide president David Koch noted this after his team fell out of the top-eight rankings – and into the dreaded “no man’s land” of ninth to 12th on the AFL ladder – in 2018 despite loading up its list with experienced and lauded talent in No. 1 draftee Jack Watts from Melbourne, former Brisbane captain Tom Rockliff and Steven Motlop from Geelong.

Koch calls the middle rankings on the 18-team AFL ladder the “death zone, between seventh down to possibly 13th”. To get away from this trap, adds Koch, “you need to make hard decisions – ruthless calls to be elite”.

Can the Adelaide fans endure three consecutive seasons of winning less than four games a season?

In the past two years, Port Adelaide has moved on a club champion Chad Wingard (to Hawthorn), a supposed team “barometer” in Jared Polec (who now is failing at North Melbourne) and promising key position player Dougal Howard (to St Kilda) to revive its finals fortunes and set up an encouraging future with draftees Zak Butters, Connor Rozee, Xavier Duursma and Mitch Georgiades.

Port Adelaide list manager Jason Cripps says he intends to work the draft – even if he has to trade out established players – to build the AFL’s best under-22 squad at Alberton.

Former Crows strategist Rob Harding emphasises the grand dilemma or trap in list management, saying: “You can become caught between contending and rebuilding… that’s football’s no-man’s land.”

Adelaide has picked up the template. Hence, as Ricciuto puts it, there is an “aggressive rebuild” at Adelaide. Times do indeed change.

Carlton premiership captain Mark Maclure tells InDaily the once frowned upon “bottoming out” for early draft picks is the smart way to manage an AFL player list.

“Go straight to the bottom, get the kids in, free up your salary cap – and away you go,” Maclure says.

Managing the salary cap ($13 million, plus $1.1 million in third-party deals) is an issue at Adelaide where this season Eddie Betts (Carlton) and Josh Jenkins (Geelong) are at rival AFL clubs but collecting pay cheques from the Crows.

Next season, with the salary cap under review from the COVID fall-out on football spending, former captain Taylor Walker and Carlton recruit Bryce Gibbs could burn the cap from the retirement lounge.

This limits Adelaide’s trade prospects – and puts in question the timeline on the rebuild.

“What is the point of hanging around 10th, 11th and 12th spot for three or four years in a row?” adds Maclure.

“Hanging around the middle of the table is wasting time. You don’t move forward, you either get stuck in no-man’s land or go backwards slowly.

“North Melbourne did that (eighth in 2015 and 2016, then 15th, ninth and 12th last season). Where are they now in the premiership race? Going backwards.

“Essendon… they should have sold Joe Daniher (to Sydney) last year, opened up the salary cap with big dollars saved on Daniher’s contract and taken the early draft picks that would have set them up for the next three or four years. Not trading Daniher will go down as one of the dumbest moves in the history of the game.

“Hawthorn now realises it should be playing kids – but they have none because (coach) Alastair Clarkson has kept giving away draft picks to buy senior players. And now those senior players are not up to it.”

Ricciuto says Adelaide is halfway through its rebuild.

There is much attention on the state of the Crows player list, particularly since Justin Reid (who was once Ricciuto’s manager) became Adelaide’s list manager in December 2014. From 2015, the entry and exit doors to the Crows changerooms have welcomed and farewelled the following:

DEPARTURES

2015

Patrick Dangerfield (154 games on leaving Adelaide to Geelong)

Sam Kerridge (27, Carlton)

Brodie Martin (38, delisted)

Jack Osborn (0 to Sturt, SANFL)

James Podsiadly (104, retired)

Brent Reilly (203, retired)

Sam Siggins (0, retired)

Anthony Wilson (0 to Norwood)

Matthew Wright (94, Carlton)

2016

Mitch Grigg (20 to Norwood, SANFL)

Ricky Henderson (90, Hawthorn)

Matthew Jaensch (74, retired)

Luke Lowden (1, delisted)

Jarrod Lyons (55, Gold Coast then Brisbane)

Keenan Ramsey (0, delisted)

Nathan van Berlo (205, retired)

2017

Jonathon Beech (3, delisted)

Charlie Cameron (73, Brisbane)

Dean Gore (0, delisted)

Jake Lever (56, Melbourne)

Troy Menzel (44, delisted)

Sam Shaw (24, delisted)

Scott Thompson (308, retired)

Harrison Wigg (0, Gold Coast to North Adelaide)

2018

Kyle Cheney (85, retired)

Harry Dear (0, delisted)

Jackson Edwards (0, delisted)

Sam Gibson (135, retired)

Curtly Hampton (63, retired)

Mitch McGovern (48, Carlton)

Ben Jarman (0, delisted)

Matt Signorello (0, delisted)

2019

Eddie Betts (316, Carlton)

Richard Douglas (246 to Norwood)

Cam Ellis-Yolmen (39 to Brisbane)

Hugh Greenwood (51 to Gold Coast)

Paul Hunter (0, delisted)

Sam Jacobs (201 to Greater Western Sydney)

Josh Jenkins (147 to Geelong)

Alex Keath (30 to Western Bulldogs)

Andy Otten (109, retired)

ARRIVALS

2016 (10)

Jonathon Beech

Tom Doedee

Dean Gore (from Geelong)

Hugh Greenwood

Curtly Hampton (GWS)

Paul Hunter

Alex Keath

Troy Menzel (Carlton)

Wayne Milera

Paul Seedsman (Collingwood)

2017 (6)

Ben Davis

Jordan Gallucci

Elliott Himmleberg

Ben Jarman

Myles Poholke

Matt Signorello

2018 (7)

Jackson Edwards

Darcy Fogarty

Sam Gibson (North Melbourne)

Bryce Gibbs (Carlton)

Andrew McPherson

Lachlan Murphy

Patrick Wilson

2019 (8)

Jordan Butts

Chayce Jones

Will Hamill

Shane McAdam

Ned McHenry

Lachlan Scholl

Tyson Stengle (Richmond)

Kieran Strachan

2020 (9)

Ben Crocker

Billy Frampton (Port Adelaide)

Lachlan Gollant

Ben Keays

Fischer McAsey

Ronin O’Connor

Harry Schoenberg

Ayce Taylor

Josh Worrell

Since losing the 2017 AFL grand final, the Crows have cleared out 1978 games of AFL experience from their player list – and added less than 300, most with the 267-game Gibbs who has fallen out of favour at senior selection.

The timing of Adelaide’s bottoming out is risky for all the unknowns that come amid the COVID pandemic – and while the AFL national draft, slated for December this year, becomes heavily compromised by academy and father-son picks. Prime talent that the Crows could have expected in previous years will be gone before Reid can make his call at the draft table.

So what are the uncertainties with Adelaide’s new strategy?

RECRUITING: Crows recruiting manager Hamish Ogilvie is under pressure to make sure Adelaide picks well – and he is not short of criticism for his recent calls at the draft tables.

“There is a reason Geelong has not fallen like other teams do – they pick well at the draft because they have the best recruiter in the business, Stephen Wells,” Maclure said. “If you don’t have a great recruiting manager, get one. He is the most important person at your club.”

DEVELOPMENT: Carlton has not risen despite having collected a stack of early draft picks after serving its penance for salary cap breaches in 2000. The Blues are mocked for being “15 years in a 20-year rebuild” – and prove the point that it is one thing to pick talent, another to develop it.

So Ogilvie could find the gems in the AFL draft pool. But Adelaide also must have a strong development program – and this is challenging while managing a league-imposed $3.5 million cut in football department spending (capped at $6.2 million next season). Do the  Crows invest in development coaches and again – as Kane Cornes says – leave novice senior coach Matthew Nicks “hung out to dry” with a low-key coaching staff on match day?

Also in question, particularly while the AFL considers cutting list sizes from 44 to 35,  is whether the Crows can keep all their young draftees together under one coach in the SANFL. Will the Crows reserves return to the state league next season? If not, will the Crows negotiate to farm out all its draftees to one SANFL club?

RETENTION: Adelaide does have a much-criticised record on keeping valued players, be it either by questions on the culture at West Lakes or the impression the Crows are tight-fisted when out-of-contract players seek deals from rival suitors to be matched at Adelaide.

There also is the delicate task of knowing which experienced players stay on the list to guide the young draftees. Former St Kilda and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon argues these calls need to be based on keeping “role models” on and off the field.

Hawthorn premiership coach Alastair Clarkson warns against a clean-out of any list saying: “You need to keep the experience players while (the draftees) mature and strengthen their bodies and learn their craft.”

FANS: Will the Adelaide members and supporters stomach a rebuild that, by Ricciuto’s count, has another two years to play out – and others expect could take five years?

The most recent example of a successful rebuild is Brisbane – three seasons from 2015-2017 ranking 17th, 17th and 18th to reload on first-round draftees to become a premiership challenger in successive seasons.

Can the Adelaide fans endure three consecutive seasons of winning less than four games a season? They have been blessed in the past with sharp rebounds after poor seasons in the past decade – 14th in 2011 to second in home-and-away football in 2012; 11th and 10th in 2013-14 to a grand final in 2017.

“It takes patience,” says Ricciuto.

Maclure dismisses the fear of fans clearing the seats – even if there is evidence of such a backlash at Port Adelaide that needed to resort to covering the empty seats at Football Park in the late 2000s to hide the vacated terraces.

“You think a wooden spoon is a problem?” Maclure says. “We have collected more wooden spoons than ever before at Carlton (the first in the club’s history in 2002 followed by four more in 2005, 2006, 2015 and 2018)… and we have more members than ever.

“Richmond could not make a grand final from 1982 to 2017, but in 2016 had a club record 75,000 members.

“Essendon had a spike in membership when it was in all that strife (with the supplements saga) in 2012.

“Going to the bottom never hurt anyone.”

Except the senior coach asked to nurture the rebuild – and possibly hand it to another coach to collect the rewards from turning the nursery into a finishing school.

The big question today is: did Nicks, who eagerly chased the Adelaide job, know the Crows were intending to bottom out after years and years of publicly declaring a preference to stay in the fight rather than load up on early draft picks?

“No, I did not think we would bottom out,” Nicks said after Adelaide’s 11th consecutive loss last week. “But I knew we would have challenges.

“I came in with complete clarity around where we were going as a club and the direction we needed to take to basically improve our list.

“Bottoming out is an interesting term… we are in transition; we are rebuilding our list.”

Ricciuto adds: “Matthew Nicks knew what he was in for when he was coming (as Adelaide’s fifth consecutive novice AFL coach after Craig, Brenton Sanderson, the late Phil Walsh and Don Pyke).

“We were very clear: we wanted to do a rebuild – an aggressive rebuild. We knew we had to move on a few of our older players and we needed to try some of our younger players who have not been exposed to AFL football in the last two years.

“We have picked up five to six players a year for two years and they’ve hardly played. So this year we are number one for debutants with eight new players and we have used the most players of any team in the competition.

“So (Nicks) is finding out little bits about the new players which is really valuable. Plus we need to continue to go to the draft for the next year or two. We are following the footpath of a few other clubs in the competition that are now starting to play pretty exciting football.”

Times have certainly changed at the Adelaide Football Club.

For the rest of the AFL season, you can read news and insights from Michelangelo Rucci – SA’s most experienced and credible football writer – every Friday in InDaily.

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