Rucci’s worry for Matthew Nicks heading into 2021


Veteran South Australian journalist Michelangelo Rucci is worried that Matthew Nicks will simply be another young coach cast out after a few poor years at a rebuilding club.

In recent years, we have seen coaches like Brendon Bolton at Carlton and Alan Richardson at St Kilda take over struggling clubs before being sacked early in their tenure.

Rucci hopes that Nicks is able to get through this early phase with the Crows unscathed.

“It’s a long road for Matthew Nicks and I hope he doesn’t become one of these coaches, and there’s a long list of them in VFL, AFL, SANFL, WAFL where a club is on its knees and a young, first-time coach comes in and just wears himself out over the first two years and clubs become impatient and want to go with a finishing coach,” he told SEN Afternoons.

“That’s the risk Matthew Nicks faces and we’ve seen it so many times with clubs in recent times.”

The Crows have struggled to contain off-field issues, starting with their infamous pre-season camp following the 2017 Grand Final.

Players Tyson Stengle and Josh Worrell have become the most recent to be sanctioned for indiscretions following the 2020 season.

Rucci hopes new club Chairman John Olsen institutes the change the club needs.

“The real challenge to change the football club itself stands with John Olsen as their new chairman,” he said.

“Now bear in mind he’s not there for a long time, he’s not going to be a 9-10 year club chairman, he’s probably there for four years max.

“He’s spent a lot of time since October getting one on one with key people inside and outside the footy club. His due diligence could not be better in terms of understanding where the footy club was, what it has become and needs to be and I would expect by February there would be some significant changes in key roles at the Adelaide Football Club.

“He sets a new agenda and a new feel for a football club that is very different to the one we knew a decade ago and 20 years ago when Malcolm Blight was making something out of the place.”

Rucci adds that he feels club CEO Andrew Fagan’s days at the club may be numbered.

“I’ve been saying for some time I don’t think the Chief Executive Andrew Fagan can survive what has been a very, very interesting 12 months whereby leadership has been questioned at Adelaide and just what he has done to this football club,” he said.

“People will say that in his time he’s certainly made Adelaide commercially stronger, their balance sheet has never read better pre-COVID, but culturally they are weaker by this determination to be a business rather than in the business of football.

“I know that the Jason Dunstall report that was done at the end of last year brought up some issues about the way Andrew Fagan’s gone about things at Adelaide Football Club, I’m more than sure from the feedback John Olsen is getting there’s going to be more questions asked of Fagan.

“I’m not sure it probably is a moment that leads to much longer tenure for him at West Lakes.”







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AFL 2020: Tyson Stengle drink driving, suspended, stood down, sacked, Adelaide Crows, Matthew Nicks, three strike policy


Adelaide forward Tyson Stengle has been stood down from all club duties effective immediately after the club confirmed it had become aware of an “off-field matter”.

The 22-year-old, who in October was fined more than $1600 after pleading guilty to drink driving and other offences, has played 14 matches for Adelaide since moving across from Richmond at the end of 2018.

In September, Stengle and former teammate Brad Crouch were allegedly found in possession of an illicit substance by South Australian police, who referred both players to a counselling process.

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Matthew Nicks puts players on notice after Eddie Betts scenes, Adelaide Crows


The game in 2020 has changed with players interacting more and more both before and after the final siren.

But not everyone is on board with the happy interactions between opposing playing groups with Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks putting his players on notice.

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Ahead of Adelaide’s contest against Carlton on Sunday at Metricon Stadium, several Crows players shared a laugh and hug with their former teammate who returned to Carlton this off-season in Eddie Betts.

Crows star Brodie Smith revealed Nicks wasn’t overjoyed seeing his players lower their guard and made a point to mention it in his final address before the game.

“We probably got a bit too friendly (with Betts) before the game in the first warm up, and Nicksy actually mentioned it in our meeting that it was time to put all that aside and focus on getting the job done,” Smith said on the Lowdown Podcast.

“Everyone knows how much everyone in the world loves Eddie but how much we love him so it was great to see him and have a good chat and there was plenty of banter on the field.

“Potentially it (the game) has got a bit more friendly among opposition (teams this year), clearly when the game is on the white line fever kicks in, but I don’t know if it’s because we’ve all come together to get the season done and we’re all doing these restrictions and sacrificing a bit.

“I know there is always a chat after the game to see how the guys are going up in the hub and how their families are.

“It has become a bit more friendly … even in Showdowns clearly we want to beat the Power and the white line fever kicks in but everyone seems to be a bit more friendly towards each other which I don’t mind.

“I still think there’s time for it but when the ball is there to be won it’s there to be won.”

RELATED: ‘Extraordinary’ scene slammed as soft

After the final siren sounded the two teams once again came together as they farewelled Bryce Gibbs who’s career began at Carlton before wrapping up at the Crows.

Gibbs was chaired from the field by former teammates in Marc Murphy and Kade Simpson, an act slammed by Caroline Wilson and Kane Cornes.

“I’m sorry, call me old-fashioned but I found it extraordinary to see two Carlton footballers — albeit two of his closest mates — carry Bryce Gibbs off the ground,” Wilson said on Footy Classified.

Port Adelaide’s Tom Rockliff, co-host on The Lowdown Podcast, said he was a fan of the move from the Blues to chair Gibbs off.

“I thought it was a pretty special moment, he spent so much of his career at Carlton and a lot of people said it would have been nice if there was one Crows and one Carlton player,” Rockliff said.

“But I think it was a nice touch, those two (Simpson and Murphy) were in his bridal party or really close mates and it’s no disrespect to the Adelaide Footy Club, they did a guard of honour and a nice touch in what’s been a difficult year for so many and a pretty special moment for Bryce and both footy clubs.”



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Adelaide Crows’ 2020 Season | Greg Baum speaks to first-year coach Matthew Nicks


For still-winless Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks, the pandemic lifestyle has brought one incidental benefit. Though he played his footy in relative anonymity in Sydney, he grew up in Adelaide and worked for Port Adelaide for seven years after retirement, and he knows that as defeat follows defeat for the Crows, there is seething in the streets.

“But I live quite a sheltered life at the moment,” he said. “I’m not allowed out in public. I can’t go to a cafe. Fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t hear a lot of the noise. That’s our entire group. I’m sure if you walk down the main street of Glenelg, you’ll hear quite a bit of the criticism we don’t get, because we’re not allowed down there.”

But in all other ways, COVID-19 has been a superbug for Adelaide. Nicks understands that all clubs are toiling under restrictions and opacity, but says they could not have come at a worse time for the Crows. “As a first-year coach, if you were told you weren’t able to train throughout your first year you’d be reasonably sceptical about taking the role,” he said.

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks. ''Fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t hear a lot of the noise.''

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks. ”Fortunately or unfortunately, I don’t hear a lot of the noise.”Credit:Getty Images

Like every new coach, he came with a new plan. “There’s some theory behind it all, and we’ve done some great work in that space,” he said. “But you don’t change habits until you actually get out there and run through it over and over and over.” Minimal training has made it hard for young players to form habits, harder still for veteran to break them. “When you talk about changing a game plan, they’re finding it the hardest,” he said.



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Grim winless run a ‘reality’ Crows won’t hide from: Nicks


“We haven’t won a game for the season and it’s tough.

“You go back to process, you go back to what it is that’s going to get you the ultimate outcome. We are not getting the process right, so it’s not rocket science.

“[We] just didn’t really bring it, unfortunately. Outmuscled, beaten in contests convincingly.

“The area we focus mainly on at this point [is] trying to keep ourselves in the fight and come away from games proud of what we put out there. We were not doing that today.”

Veterans Rory Sloane and Taylor Walker were poor, but Nicks said criticising just them was unfair.

“It’s hard to put it on one player after a performance like that,” the coach said. “And I am really mindful of us going there because, goodness me, playing in our forward line today would have been a tough, tough gig.

Aaron Naughton is mobbed by teammates after one of his six goals. Credit:Getty Images

“There’s 22 players sitting there at a moment, we’re all searching.”

Nicks said he wasn’t personally feeling the pressure of being a winless coach, having taken over at the start of 2020.

“It’s not my win. I want a result for the players so they believe we are heading in the right direction,” he said.

“We take steps up the ladder and drop back down with games like this.

“But we will keep climbing, we will keep working on it. It’d be nice for our group, for everyone to get a result.”

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said his side wasn’t perfect in the game, but he was particularly happy with the way the midfield completely dominated their opposition, and Aaron Naughton’s six-goal bag.

“We need to continue to go to school on probably our ball use as much as anything because I felt some of those blatant turnovers just really hurt us going the full length of the ground at times,” Beveridge said.

“But I was so pleased, we had so many different role players today, and in a team that was piecemeal. It was put together through some lads who have earned an opportunity, and some boys who have probably gone back to where they started in our back end, such as Roarke Smith and Ed Richards.

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“Really pleased with how functional we were all through the lines, but we probably let them score too much.”

He also praised Lachie Hunter who returned from a break for personal reasons, and who was linked with a move away from the Bulldogs during the week, which Beveridge denied. Hunter also grabbed his shirt in a goal celebration in an obvious response to the report.

“He [Hunter] has been an important player for our club for a long time and we miss his work. He showed this afternoon what he is capable of,” Beveridge said.

“That’s great for him because it’s been a difficult time for him.

“He’s always been invested … he is an influencer, not in a social media sense in a football club sense. He has great care and empathy for his teammates and his words and actions really marry up.”

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Nicks admits Crows could have been more transparent with Stengle situation


Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks admits they might handle an issue like the Tyson Stengle drink driving situation differently next time around.

Stengle was suspended for four games and fined $2500 by the club for blowing a reading of 0.125 when stopped by police on April 9th.

The 21-year-old withheld that information from the club for a few days and Adelaide chose to keep it private once they found out about it in order to investigate further.

They have been criticised for it, with Kane Cornes saying “it’s just not good enough”, given the lack of transparency with members and the media.

Nicks said he was fine with the way they handled the situation, but feels they should have been more upfront.

“I understand the perception that has come through on that. It is something we have spoken about,” Nicks told SEN SA Breakfast.

“We went through this process very deliberately and we wanted to number one, look after Tyson, and number two we want to look after all of our people and all of our members and our supporters and our community and we made some decisions around it.

“In hindsight you look back, could we have come out with a short statement, we didn’t have a lot of information early and that’s why we didn’t, but I totally understand why there’s been a lot of questions asked about that.

“It was nothing more than making sure we got the detail right before coming out and that was all about looking after our player and that’s what we’re about and we’ll be like that going forward.

“I think there’s something in it maybe we might release a short, quick statement earlier on in the piece.”

Adelaide CEO Andrew Fagan was strong in his defence of the club’s decision to keep the information private.

“I think we’ve been very transparent about it. The timing was the issue and we did take a few days,” he told SEN’s Dwayne’s World.

“If this was the middle of the season and we were playing every week, then we probably would have a reason to rush this out as quickly as we could, but it would also mean we were having face to face contact with all the necessary people.

“It took us a few days to be notified, then we wanted to sit with Tyson and make sure he was okay and we wanted to investigate the incident properly and try and get the appropriate information from the authorities and it took us a little bit of time.

“Then we had a scheduled meeting with the playing group on Friday morning … we didn’t seek to change the timing of that meeting and the intention always was to release it later on Friday, which we did.

“The fact that we took four or five days after him notifying us is not a significant issue at all. We’ve been very open on what’s occurred.”

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