Adelaide Crows round eight news: Matt Crouch axing explained as Crows ponder extra cover

The Crows have revealed why star Matt Crouch was dumped and revealed if any other players or staff have been ruled out with Covid protocols.

Adelaide has so far dodged further Covid cases but is considering taking extra players to Melbourne to cover for if any that emerge before Sunday’s game against Carlton.

Crows coach Matthew Nicks tested positive on Thursday, paving the way for senior assistant Scott Burns to step into the interim role.

Nicks called Burns on Thursday to let him know the news and was said to be feeling fine.

More than two-thirds of Adelaide’s squad has already had Covid, most occurring in February, prompting the club to abandon its internal trial.

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The Crows are considering taking extra players to cover possible outs. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images
The Crows are considering taking extra players to cover possible outs. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Burns said the prospect of reinfection was unknown and the club was doing what it could to reduce the chances of the virus spreading.

Adelaide players and coaches undergo daily rapid antigen tests.

The club is also wearing masks in meetings, social distancing, limiting people in rooms and gathering outdoors where possible.

Burns said the club might take extra players but it was a balancing act because it wanted to give some of them SANFL games, rather than have them travel without taking to the field this round.

He said with children at childcare and schools, the coaches thought the club might get hit a bit harder earlier by Covid.

“We’ve had a few staff and coaches get in here and there, but generally we’ve been pretty good,” Burns said.

“I’ve avoided it at this stage but it’s just a matter of time until you get done.

“We got hit earlier in the year and that caught us unaware a little bit, or it was too late to rectify because they all got it at the same time.

“When you get one or two drifting in at a time, we’re really confident most things we’re setting up are working quite well.”

Burns said Nicks wanted the other coaches to control things on game day as much as possible.

But he was expecting to be in regular contact.

“It’d be nice if he didn’t because that probably means we’re going OK,” he said.

Burns said Nicks spoke to midfielder Matt Crouch, who was omitted on Thursday night.

Matt Crouch was dropped for the Crows’ clash against Carlton. Picture: James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Matt Crouch was dropped for the Crows’ clash against Carlton. Picture: James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images

“There’s a few areas Matt hasn’t been as good as what he was two or three years ago,” he said.

“But we’ve got to be careful with Matty too - he has missed a lot of footy.”

Earlier in the week, half-back Wayne Milera had seemed in line for a recall but was overlooked.

Burns said he was very close.

“He’s such a big part of our future going forward,” he said.

“We’ve got to make sure that next time he’s in, he’s in for another 150 games.”

Burns said the club wanted to give more time at AFL level to Sam Berry and Jackson Hately because it was difficult to come up from the SANFL, even if players were in strong form.

“It’s like facing an opening bowler or having a tennis player serve at you at 200km/h, the first half a dozen whizz past you pretty quick, then eventually you become accustomed to the speed and pace,” he said.

The former Collingwood captain said did not feel pressure to continue the unbeaten run of stand-in coaches.

Burns is the sixth assistant to take the reins this season and they have a 6-0 record.

Instead, he was excited about the opportunity.

“A big game, interstate against Carlton, who are going so well and it’s going to be a massive challenge (for the team),” said Burns, who had missed out on previous senior coaching jobs.

“I’m still pretty relaxed but that might change when you sit in there.”

Burns then joked: “It’ll be interesting if I smash a phone five minutes in.”

Crows, Eagles coaches in iso as star gets chop

Adelaide has made a selection surprise, dropping Matt Crouch for Sunday’s clash with Carlton at Marvel Stadium.

The 27-year-old midfielder is set to play his first SANFL game since July 17 – the day Taylor Walker racially vilified North Adelaide’s Robbie Young in front of Crouch.

After not featuring at the elite level in 2021 due to hip and groin issues, Crouch has lined up in the AFL side every round so far this season.

SCROLL DOWN FOR THE TEAMS AND MORE ON THE COVID CRISIS GRIPPING ADELAIDE AND WEST COAST

The 2017 best-and-fairest and All-Australian registered 24 disposals, five clearances, five inside 50s and four tackles in Adelaide’s 59-point loss to GWS.

He also had seven turnovers.

Crouch was one of three Crows outs, along with Brodie Smith and Ned McHenry (both in concussion protocols).

The Crows have run out of patience with Matt Crouch. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
The Crows have run out of patience with Matt Crouch. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

Will Hamill, Mitch Hinge, Ben Davis, Jake Soligo, Luke Pedlar and James Rowe were all added to the Crows’ 25-man squad.

Crouch told Channel 10 he needed to have more influence on matches.

“I might have got the ball on the weekend but I didn’t feel I had a big impact on the game,” Crouch said.

“I need to get back to what I’m good at in the contest.

“I don’t want to play in the SANFL, that’s not what I’m about, so I’m going to try to get back in the AFL squad as quick as I can.”

Last week’s medical substitute, Harry Schoenberg, is in line to replace Crouch in the 22.

Adelaide football boss Adam Kelly said Crouch was understandably still working back to his best form after being sidelined for almost all of last year.

“Matt has been able to get the first seven games of the season at AFL level, which is a credit to the work he has put in,” Kelly said.

Harry Schoenberg looks set to slide back into the Crows’ 22. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Harry Schoenberg looks set to slide back into the Crows’ 22. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

“This has given a clear picture on where he is at.

“He will go back to the SANFL and continue to build confidence and consistency as part of his progression.”

Hamill was named at halfback to play his first game of the season, while Hinge was chosen on a wing after being out of the side since Round 4.

Port Adelaide is unchanged for its crunch home clash against the Western Bulldogs on Friday night.

Forward Mitch Georgiades was under an injury cloud because of a calf issue but was picked at centre half-forward.

The Bulldogs will be without captain Marcus Bontempelli (managed) and forward Mitch Wallis (foot).

TEAMS

CARLTON BLUES v ADELAIDE CROWS

Sunday May 8, 4:40pm at Adelaide Oval

BLUES

B: A.Saad, Le.Young, L.Plowman

HB: Z.Williams, J.Weitering, S.Docherty

C: J.Carroll, P.Cripps, L.O’Brien

HF: J.Newnes, C.Curnow, J.Martin

F: Z.Fisher, H.McKay, C.Durdin

FOLL: T.De Koning, S.Walsh, A.Cerra

I/C (from): M.Cottrell, J.Motlop, P.Dow, J.Boyd, N.Newman, M.Kennedy, M.Owies, J.Silvagni

IN: Z.Williams, J.Motlop, P.Dow, J.Boyd

OUT: L.Stocker (suspended)

CROWS

B: C.Jones, J.Butts, L.Brown

HB: W.Hamill, T.Doedee, J.Dawson

C: M.Hinge, R.Laird, L.Sholl

HF: L.Murphy, E.Himmelberg, J.Hately

F: S.McAdam, T.Walker, J.Rachele

FOLL: R.O’Brien, B.Keays, S.Berry

I/C (from): L.Gollant, B.Davis, J.Soligo, B.Frampton, H.Schoenberg, B.Cook, L.Pedlar, J.Rowe

IN: W.Hamill, M.Hinge, B.Davis, J.Soligo, L.Pedlar, J.Rowe

OUT: N.McHenry, B.Smith (both injured), M.Crouch (omitted)

Matthew Nicks has entered Covid protocols. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Matthew Nicks has entered Covid protocols. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Nicks in iso as Eagles ravaged by Covid

Adelaide will be hoping it can avoid more Covid absences after losing coach Matthew Nicks’ for Sunday’s game against Carlton.

The Crows announced on Thursday that Nicks would miss the Marvel Stadium clash due to the AFL’s coronavirus protocols and would be replaced by senior assistant Scott Burns.

No other Adelaide players or Crows have yet been affected.

Nicks took Wednesday’s main training session at West Lakes and informed the club on Thursday – the football department’s day off – that he had tested positive.

He is now faced with seven days of isolation.

It is the first time Nicks has had Covid.

All Crows players and staff undergo daily rapid antigen tests before entering the club, and will continue to do so ahead of Sunday’s match.

If any test positive between now and the team’s Saturday afternoon flight, they obviously will not make the trip to Melbourne.

More than two thirds of Adelaide’s squad have already contracted the virus.

Crows football boss Adam Kelly said the situation was not ideal but Nicks was feeling OK.

“He is obviously disappointed that he won’t be with the team on Sunday,” Kelly said.

“We have planned for this scenario and remain focused on delivering a strong performance this weekend.”

It comes as West Coast coach Adam Simpson has also entered Health and Safety protocols as both the Dockers and Eagles manage Covid outbreaks.

Former Richmond coach Matthew Knights will take charge of the Eagles match day duties while the club will have to call on several top-up players in order to field a side against the Lions due to injuries and players in isolation.

Greg Clark will miss West Coast’s clash with Brisbane Lions.
Greg Clark will miss West Coast’s clash with Brisbane Lions.

The Eagles just have 22 available listed AFL players to choose from with eight staff including midfielder Greg Clark in the Covid-19 protocols.

Fremantle has six players – Rory Lobb, Griffin Logue, Michael Frederick, Travis Colyer, Blake Acres and Lloyd Meek – who will also be unavailable.

The Crows were forced to abandon their internal trial in February after a Covid outbreak.

Sixteen players were unavailable, including more than a dozen who had tested positive.

Adelaide’s SANFL coach Michael Godden and second-year forward Riley Thilthorpe were sidelined last week due to Covid, but had since emerged from protocols.

Burns will become the sixth stand-in coach this season, following on from Ash Hansen (Carlton), Blake Caracella (Essendon), Jaymie Graham (Fremantle), Adem Yze (Melbourne) and Brendon Lade (St Kilda).

All interim coaches have so far won their matches.

Leader Keays completes ultimate career resurrection

From being delisted two-and-a-half years ago to captaining an AFL team.

Ben Keays’ stunning rise has continued after being revealed as Adelaide’s acting skipper for Sunday’s clash with Carlton at Marvel Stadium.

The 25-year-old midfielder will take on the interim role in the absence of captain Rory Sloane and Brodie Smith, who has stood in for the past fortnight.

Sloane sustained a season-ending knee injury against Richmond, while Smith was ruled out of the Blues’ match due to concussion.

Keays has played 46 matches for the Crows since being recruited via the rookie draft in 2020.

He had been cut by Brisbane at the end of 2019 after 30 games in four seasons.

Fellow leadership group member Tom Doedee said Keays was rewarded for being one of the hardest workers at the club and an impressive start to the year.

“It was a pretty quick decision,” Doedee said.

“We had a chat (as a leadership group) … and Keaysy with the form he’s in, we thought it was a good opportunity for him.

Ben Keays will captain Adelaide against Carlton.
Ben Keays will captain Adelaide against Carlton.

“He’s probably leading our b&f (best and fairest), been consistent across the board and all five or six games he’s been dominant.

“It’s a just reward for him and I think it’ll be a huge honour for him.”

Adelaide will need to replace Smith and small forward Ned McHenry for Sunday’s game.

McHenry has also entered concussion protocols, having copped a knock during the Crows’ home loss to GWS last Saturday.

Skilful halfback/wingman Wayne Milera is in line to return for his first match since Round 1.

Doedee said defenders Josh Worrell and Will Hamill, and small forwards Patrick Parnell and James Rowe also put their hands up for selection with strong SANFL performances last weekend.

“It’s going to be tough to pick and I don’t envy match committee,” Doedee said.

Key forward Riley Thilthorpe had emerged from Covid protocols but Doedee was unsure if would play this round.

Adelaide has a 3-4 record heading into Sunday’s match against the 5-2 Blues.

The call-up which can immediately improve Crows

Wayne Milera is in line to return to Adelaide’s AFL side with assistant coach Nathan van Berlo saying he can provide the Crows with the poise they lacked against GWS.

After two fine wins over Richmond and the Western Bulldogs, the Crows were brought back down to earth as the Giants thumped them by 59-points on Saturday.

“There are definitely elements of our game that we moved away from that we were doing really well in the previous couple of weeks,” van Berlo said.

“It will be a really good learning for our group that if we do move away from little things it can have a big effect on the outcome.”

Wayne Milera is set to be elevated to the senior side. Picture: Brenton Edwards
Wayne Milera is set to be elevated to the senior side. Picture: Brenton Edwards

The Crows will have to make at least two changes with Brodie Smith and Ned McHenry in concussion protocols after the Giants game.

Van Berlo said a number of Crows put their hand up in the SANFL as they defeated South Adelaide at Noarlunga for the first time in seven years.

“Wayne (Milera) showed some strong form, I thought Patty Parnell along with Josh Worrell down back were two shining lights for us which helps put some pressure on above,” he said.

“Will Hamill was also good, Fischer McAsey and Darcy Fogarty had their moments ahead of the ball. James Rowe was really important for us, Jake Soligo had his moments.

“It was really pleasing for us.”

Milera played for the Crows in Round 1 against Fremantle after nearly two years on the sidelines but has been in the SANFL since with Adelaide coaching staff saying he needs to put a run of games together in the state league.

He has now played five games in the SANFL and had 23 disposals against the Panthers.

Van Berlo said the Crows coaches were keen to have Milera back in the side.

“We’ve always said that Junior (Milera) brings a poise and hardness around the footy but we also love to get the ball in his hands, he can make things happen,” he said.

“We are working on our connection and polish and he’s definitely a big part of that, he has shown in the past that he can assist in that area.”

The potential return of Milera comes after the Crows had 74 turnovers against the Giants.

The Crows were hurt on turnover against the Giants. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images
The Crows were hurt on turnover against the Giants. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Van Berlo conceded that skill errors was hurting the Crows and they needed to work on it.

“It is a challenging one because you don’t go from one week to the next and lose your ability to kick, so it is something that we have been working on a lot as a group,” he said.

“Just that polish when we are going forward or going down the line, which invites pressure from the opposition.

“It is still a bit of a work for us and on the weekend there were a number of examples where we cost ourselves and the Giants to their credit made us pay.

“So we will keep working on it.”

Ned-ache: Crows rocked by second concussion case

Adelaide small forward Ned McHenry will miss the Crows’ clash against Carlton as he joins Brodie Smith in the AFL’s concussion protocols.

McHenry did not return to the field in the Crows heavy loss to GWS after he ran into Giants midfielder Tom Green in the third quarter.

Post game the Crows said McHenry received treatment for a cut to his head after the collision and would be assessed in the coming days.

McHenry after copping the knock. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
McHenry after copping the knock. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

But on Sunday McHenry was placed in the AFL’s concussion protocols after further assessment, meaning he will miss the clash against the Blues.

McHenry was knocked out following a tackle by Scott Lycett in the Showdown last year.

He is joined by Smith on the sidelines and in the protocols after the stand-in Crows captain suffered a concussion when his head hit the ground following a high-leaping mark in the third quarter.

The Crows defender flew on the shoulders of Harry Perryman to take a brilliant grab but knocked himself out coming down when his head lashed into the turf.

Play stopped for about five minutes before Smith left the field on a medical cab.

The 30-year-old was substituted off immediately and replaced by Harry Schoenberg.

Smith before he hit his head on the turf and was concussed. (Photo by Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Smith before he hit his head on the turf and was concussed. (Photo by Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Adelaide high performance manager Darren Burgess said Smith had shown pleasing signs in the rooms after being taken off.

“Brodie was up and walking and communicating in the rooms shortly after the incident which is pleasing, but he will now be subject to the AFL’s concussion protocols,” Burgess said.

Smith himself tweeted on Saturday night that he was feeling OK.

“Thanks for the love. Didn’t quite nail the landing! Back home and feeling all right,” he tweeted.

Smith has suffered several other concussions during his 211-game career.

Last year he entered the AFL’s 12-day protocols after a heavy collision in Round 21 against Port Adelaide.

In 2015, Smith was knocked out in Round 2 against Collingwood after hitting an opponent’s knee when he was flung in a tackle.

Five weeks later, Smith sustained another concussion against St Kilda.

Originally published as Adelaide Crows round eight news: Matt Crouch axing explained as Crows ponder extra cover

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