AFL 2022: Adelaide recalls Riley Thilthorpe for key forward role against premiers

The Crows have turned to a young key forward to help overcome injury problems in their forward half as they await the ultimate challenge against reigning premiers Melbourne.

Young gun Riley Thilthorpe will return for Adelaide’s clash against reigning premiers Melbourne as the Crows lose two forwards.

Thilthorpe missed the Crows’ comfortable win over North Melbourne in Hobart with an ankle injury but will return for the clash against the Demons at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.

He is joined in the side by Lachie Murphy, while after being the medi-sub last week Chayce Jones is now in the Crows 22.

They replace Shane McAdam and Ned McHenry, who were unable to overcome ankle and knee injuries.

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Riley Thilthorpe will be up against one of the competition’s defences when he lines up against Melbourne this weekend.
Riley Thilthorpe will be up against one of the competition’s defences when he lines up against Melbourne this weekend.

While Will Hamill was already out of the team after suffering the fifth concussion of his career against North Melbourne.

“We went into the week knowing that Will Hamill would be unavailable and that it would be highly unlikely that Shane McAdam would have enough time to improve, especially given we have had a six-day break,” Crows head of football Adam Kelly said.

“Ned McHenry has been managing knee soreness for a few weeks now and had a flare up following a contest in Sunday’s game.

“Even though Ned was able to play out the game, we have chosen to exercise caution and give his knee strain a chance to improve by not playing him this weekend.”

Kelly said the three inclusions would boost the Crows.

“Riley Thilthorpe has recovered well from his ankle strain and comes back into the team along with Lachie Murphy, whose pressure as a small forward will be really important, especially given Ned’s absence,” Kelly said.

“Chayce Jones, who was the medical sub last week, really impressed when he came onto the ground and has made his way into our 22.”

Matt Crouch, Lachlan Sholl, Tariek Newchurch and Lachlan Gollant have all been named as emergencies, with one to be announced as the medical substitution one hour before the first bounce at Adelaide Oval.

Adelaide Oval slashes membership price to tackle crowd crash

By Matt Turner

Adelaide Oval has more than halved the price of football memberships to help lift the ground’s dwindling crowd figures over the remainder of the AFL season.

With the venue’s average attendances having dropped by about 9600 since pre-Covid, as part of a competition-wide downturn, Adelaide Oval is selling memberships for $300 – 60 per cent off – ahead of the last eight minor rounds.

All 8000 of the passes, providing access to the western stand to Crows and Power games, were taken pre-pandemic but subscription had dipped to 80 per cent.

This season is the first since 2019 to have had no coronavirus restrictions on stadium capacity.

After 14 games at the ground, the average crowd is 29,586, a dip from 39,232 from 22 matches three years ago.

Adelaide’s attendances are down more than 13,000 from 44,514 for the whole of 2019 to 31,491 so far this season, while the Power’s have fallen about 6200 — 33,949 to 27,680.

Both SA clubs, along with the AFL, cite Covid and factors associated with it as the major reason for the decline.

Fans at Adelaide Oval mug young Crow Patrick Parnell. Picture: Getty Images
Fans at Adelaide Oval mug young Crow Patrick Parnell. Picture: Getty Images

A Stadium Management Authority spokesman said football membership figures had held up well through the coronavirus uncertainty.

It was hoped the latest deal, which included a $50 food and drink voucher, could help numbers climb.

“With the AFL recently confirming the schedule for the rest of the 2022 season, this offer represents a fantastic opportunity for fans to get great value tickets in the western stand for the balance of the 2022 season,” the spokesman said.

“It’s one of a number of initiatives in the market at the moment – such as the AFL’s Kids Go Free month – that stadiums, the AFL and clubs are working on to help drive membership and attendances back toward pre-Covid levels.”

Adelaide Oval membership represents the lowest attending segment at the ground.

The venue’s largest crowd so far in 2022 is 39,190 at the round 3 Showdown, a Crows home game.

In 2019, 12 of the ground’s 22 matches had at least 40,000 fans.

Adelaide Oval management has made moves to bring more fans back ot the footy. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Adelaide Oval management has made moves to bring more fans back ot the footy. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

The form of Adelaide and the Power, sitting 13th and 12th on the ladder respectively this year, would be influencing the smaller crowds.

Digital ticketing and changes in people’s behaviour after two years of pandemic interruptions were considered to be other factors.

But research the Crows conducted during the first half of the season showed nearly two-thirds of their fans who were not attending regularly were staying away because of a wide range of reasons around Covid.

Among them were people contracting the virus, having to isolate as a close contact and not feeling comfortable in crowds or on public transport.

The Crows are expecting improved attendances during the back half of the year, boosted by high-drawing opponents and fixture times.

They host Melbourne in a twilight clash this Saturday, then have Collingwood (July 16) and Carlton (July 30) among their remaining home matches.

Adelaide is also planning several “value-add propositions”, including a premiership reunion to mark 25 years since the club’s first flag.

Crowds at Power and Crows games have fallen dramatically. Picture: Getty Images
Crowds at Power and Crows games have fallen dramatically. Picture: Getty Images

Port Adelaide’s home games include a qualifying final rematch against Geelong (July 23), a Saturday night blockbuster versus Richmond (August 6), which is its members recognition game, and a Showdown in the last round (August 19).

The AFL confirmed Covid overlay in South Australia was a contributing factor behind crowd numbers.

Across the league, the average attendance in 2022 is about 31,000, down from more than 35,000 after 15 rounds in 2019.

Last weekend boasted the third-highest total attendance this year, as 299,545 people went to games.

In an AFL move to incentivise going to matches, children up to the age of 14 can go for free at any stadium until round 17.

Adelaide Oval football memberships also include access to SANFL finals, priority for AFL major-round tickets, plus reciprocal rights to the MCG, SCG, GABBA and ANZ Stadium.

They are fully transferable so can be shared with family and friends.

Fans who sign up now will get the chance to secure 2023 memberships when they are released.

Shane McAdam could miss this weekend’s clash. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Shane McAdam could miss this weekend’s clash. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

Crows’ forward crisis

Adelaide forwards Ned McHenry and Shane McAdam are both in doubt for Saturday’s home game against Melbourne after training away from the squad during the club’s main session.

McHenry has battled knee soreness since Sunday’s win over North Melbourne in Hobart, while McAdam is trying to overcome a rolled ankle.

As the Crows practised at Adelaide Oval on Wednesday, McHenry was doing straight line running and McAdam was absent, training indoors, and would seem unlikely to play.

Veteran midfielder Matt Crouch also trained inside to manage his loads, but was available for this weekend.

Crouch was dropped last round and recorded a game-high 42 disposals in the SANFL on Saturday.

Matt Crouch is a chance to return to the Crows lineup after 42 disposals in the SANFL on Saturday. Picture: SANFL Image/David Mariuz
Matt Crouch is a chance to return to the Crows lineup after 42 disposals in the SANFL on Saturday. Picture: SANFL Image/David Mariuz

Adelaide’s two wins from its past eight games have come against the bottom two clubs, West Coast and North Melbourne.

Key defender Jordon Butts said Saturday would give his side a clearer indication of where it stood.

Butts said the Crows would take confidence into the match after upsetting Melbourne at home in May last year, four months before the Demons’ premiership win.

“Melbourne are a top-four team so we’re looking forward to the challenge,” Butts, 22, said.

“Hopefully we can bring the brand of footy we want to play and see if we can match it against one of the better teams in the competition.

“Our ball movement was really good last year and also in the contest we were really strong and matched them.”

Butts has played 11 games this season, building on 22 from last year – his first as a Crows regular.

After finishing ninth in the club’s best-and-fairest, he hoped to improve his endurance and strength.

“I’m shovelling as much food as possible and lifting as many weights as possible,” said the Shepparton product, who was listed at 198cm and 97kg at the start of the season.

Butts said fellow defender Will Hamill was in good spirits, three days on from the fifth concussion of his career.

Hamill was substituted against the Kangaroos and ruled out of this week’s game due to AFL protocols but was running on Wednesday and “tracking well”.

Star Rory Laird copped a shoulder knock in training and was fine to face Melbourne.

Trade watch: What could Crows land in a Crouch deal?

- Simeon Thomas-Wilson

Former Adelaide recruiting manager Matt Rendell says Matt Crouch should request a trade from the Crows at the end of the season, and could fetch a third-round draft pick in return.

Crouch, an All-Australian and Malcolm Blight Medallist in 2017, was dropped by the Crows for the second time in two months for Adelaide’s win over North Melbourne on Sunday.

The 27-year-old had 42 disposals, 10 clearances, six tackles and a goal for the Crows in the SANFL on Saturday.

On Monday Adelaide forward’s coach James Rahilly was coy on whether Crouch would return to the Crows side to take on Melbourne after his big day out in the SANFL.

“Yeah possibly, he played a good game,” Rahilly said.

“He plays at that level really well.

“I think Crouchie is still a very important part of what we are but we will have some chats during the week.

“In his game he actually kicked the ball inside 50 and kicked a goal as well.

“So I think he is doing what we are asking so he is a chance.”

Crouch in the SANFL on the weekend. (SANFL Image/David Mariuz)
Crouch in the SANFL on the weekend. (SANFL Image/David Mariuz)

Following Crouch’s omission from the Crows side, former Carlton and Adelaide player Bryce Gibbs recommended that his former teammate should leave West Lakes – saying it reminded him of his final season in 2020.

Crouch still has a year left on his two-year contract signed last year, after he missed the season through injury and was not able to get a big offer from a rival club

Rendell, who was also a recruiter for Collingwood, told The Advertiser that Crouch needed to leave West Lakes.

“I know he has a year of his contract to go but he should be asking for a trade and I think the Crows should be happy to let him go,” he said.

“What they have done over the past couple of years is draft a lot of inside mid players who are the same as he is.

“But where they are in their rebuild when they start knocking on the doors of finals on a regular basis, which might be next year, the year after or the year after that he is going to be superfluous for their needs.

“(Ben) Keays is going to play, (Rory) Laird is going to play, (Rory) Sloane will come back next year, you have (Sam) Berry and (Luke) Pedlar, you have (Jackson) Hately who is an inside mid playing on a wing and (Brayden) Cook as well.

“You need to play those young players, you need to look to their future and they are probably three to five years away from being a regular finals team.

“So he isn’t a part of their future, I think trade him out, he should want to go.”

Crouch in action against Gold Coast. (Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Photos/Getty Images)
Crouch in action against Gold Coast. (Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

Adelaide has been hoping for more penetration from Crouch with his ball use, but Rendall said in the right team the ex All-Australian could fill a big hole.

“I reckon his greatest attribute is that he is always there to help out a teammate when they get in trouble,” he said.

“He is always there to get a handball receive, he tracks the ball really well.

“He uses it OK, he doesn’t go far, they are small kicks, sideways kicks and dickey handballs but I love a player in my team who helps you get out of trouble like Tom Mitchell at Hawthorn for example.”

Rendall said the Crows might be able to get a third-round pick for Crouch.

“A club who needs an inside mid should definitely look at him,” he said.

“His SANFL form is outstanding, he is too good for the SANFL. He just needs to find the right fit and the right club.”

After he was dropped Crouch told Channel 10 that he “was quite frustrated at it” after the “unexpected” omission.

Rendall said Crouch would probably have to sacrifice some salary to try and get a two-year deal at a new club.

Originally published as AFL 2022: Adelaide recalls Riley Thilthorpe for key forward role against premiers

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