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Tale of the tape for your AFL team in 2018: Adelaide


No.1 in 2018? Adelaide skipper Taylor Walker and his teammates will need to develop a harder edge under the most intense pressure. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Tale of the tape for your AFL team in 2018: Adelaide

Ronny Lerner    

ADELAIDE
2017 record: 17 wins, 7 losses, 1 draw (2nd).

THE INS
Bryce Gibbs (Carlton), Sam Gibson (North Melbourne), Darcy Fogarty (Glenelg), Andrew McPherson (Woodville-West Torrens), Patrick Wilson (Sturt), Lachlan Murphy (Adelaide SANFL), Jackson Edwards (Glenelg)

THE OUTS
Jake Lever (Melbourne), Charlie Cameron (Brisbane), Harrison Wigg (Gold Coast), Scott Thompson (retired), Troy Menzel (delisted), Dean Gore (delisted), Jono Beech (delisted)

THE STRENGTHS
It’s hard to go past the forward line. Yes, they failed to fire when it mattered most on grand final day, but when your attack scores 247 points more than the next best side during the home-and-away season, with an average of 110 points per game, on the whole you must be doing something right. The Crows had a competition-best eight players kick 20 or more goals and will welcome back McGovern with open arms after he missed the premiership decider with a hamstring injury. With the addition of Gibbs, their midfield is A-grade as well. They probably lacked one genuine star on-baller in season 2017 and, in the former Carlton best-and-fairest, they get him. The prospect of Gibbs in a quality side is a tantalising prospect and with the likes of Sloane, Douglas and the Crouch brothers alongside him, the 28-year-old could take his game to even greater heights.

THE WEAKNESSES
It might be an exaggeration to describe their backline as a ‘weakness’, given the likes of Talia, Laird, Atkins and Kelly still feature, but to lose the quality of Lever, Smith and even Cameron, who also at times provided such fantastic drive from that part of the ground in 2017, in one off-season has to take its toll no matter how good a team is. The Crows also seemed to struggle when they were put under serious pressure by their opponents in most of their 2017 losses – most notably the grand final. Richmond beat Adelaide into submission and when the game wasn’t played on its free-flowing terms, Don Pyke’s men threw their hands in the air and weren’t prepared to turn the tide. That is a seriously worrying characteristic which they will no doubt aim to rid from their game plan and psyche over the summer.

ONE TO WATCH
Riley Knight has done a solid apprenticeship fulfilling various roles as a tagger, a creative midfielder and an effective half-forward and after 31 senior games, the 22-year-old looks set to take the next step in 2018. Playing in all three finals would be invaluable for his development, especially the disappointment of a losing grand final, and the talented youngster appears to have all the attributes that suggest he will be a regular member of the Adelaide line-up for years to come.

UNDER THE PUMP
Josh Jenkins may have booted another 45 goals this season but he went missing badly when his team needed him most on grand final day. Many had him as Adelaide’s worst player on the ground and that is something that would burn in the guts of any self-respecting footballer for many months, if not years. The biggest knocks on Jenkins are that he is a bit of a front-runner and one of the biggest culprits when things aren’t going Adelaide’s way. Plenty to prove next season.

RONNY LERNER’S BEST 22
B: Jake Kelly, Daniel Talia, Luke Brown
HB: Rory Laird, Kyle Hartigan, Rory Atkins
C: Richard Douglas, Brad Crouch, Bryce Gibbs
HF: Andy Otten, Josh Jenkins, Tom Lynch
F: Mitch McGovern, Taylor Walker, Eddie Betts
Foll: Sam Jacobs, Rory Sloane, Matt Crouch
Inter: Riley Knight, Paul Seedsman, David Mackay, Hugh Greenwood
Emerg: Sam Gibson, Wayne Milera, Alex Keath

Ordinarily, Brodie Smith would be a walk-up start, but a serious knee injury will keep him sidelined for most of the 2018 season. Gibbs slots straight into a grand final side in what is a huge endorsement of his talents, but fellow recruit Gibson will be made to earn a spot in the best 22. Milera and Keath are also knocking on the door having spent most of the 2017 finals series as emergencies.

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