Josh Rachele is eager to move into the Crows midfield — and a sign in their first practice game was telling. Plus, a defender is set to miss the second pre-season hitout.
Adelaide young gun Josh Rachele is hoping to receive more midfield time this year as part of a new-look on-ball mix that includes star recruit Izak Rankine.
The Crows have played the exciting forwards in the engine room this pre-season to provide extra creativity, dash and attacking threat to a group that had been criticised externally for being one-paced.
Rachele started in the middle at the first centre bounce in the match simulation against Fremantle in Perth on Friday and pushed forward from there, while Rankine’s quickness offered something different during his midfield stints.
Rachele, who kicked 17 goals from 13 games last season, including five majors on debut, enjoyed playing on the ball, saying it could get lonely in attack when the footy was up the field.
“I’m definitely looking to build on that and play some more midfield time throughout the year,” Rachele said.
“(Starting games in the centre) gives me full confidence to make an immediate impact.
“(The midfield/forward rotation with Rankine) looks pretty dangerous so we’ll probably stick with that for a bit.
“We’re quite similar players.
“He’s probably a bit more evasive and I’m probably a little bit more powerful, so I think we work pretty well with each other.”
Rachele was loving playing with ex-Gold Coast Sun Rankine, who backed up his five internal trial goals by kicking another three against the Dockers.
“He’s fitted into the group quite nicely,” he said.
Rachele said his second pre-season had been much harder because unlike last summer he did not sit out any drills, getting “thrown straight in the deep end”.
The Victorian had been on a modified program last month as he dealt with a hamstring issue.
A hip injury ended his 2022 campaign in August.
“It was a tough pre-season but I think that’s set me up for this season and hopefully I can play 22 games,” said Rachele, whom the Crows drafted at pick 6 in 2021.
Adelaide was 11 points ahead after four quarters of the seven-period game on Friday.
Both clubs rested most of their best players with three terms remaining.
There was plenty to like for the Crows, who fought back from a sluggish opening 15 minutes.
“We’re not trying to get too carried away but it was a good start from all the boys,” Rachele said.
Meanwhile, half-back Wayne Milera will miss the Crows’ game against West Coast in Perth on Friday due to a personal matter.
‘Sky is the limit’ for Rankine after roaring start at Crows
Adelaide wingman Mitch Hinge says the sky is the limit for Izak Rankine after the recruit’s impressive first performance as a Crow against another club.
Rankine was quiet early in Friday’s match simulation against Fremantle in Perth before helping to spark the visitors’ fightback and finishing with three goals, including a clever snap over his head.
It was the second successive strong outing for the ex-Gold Coast Sun, who kicked five majors in the Crows’ internal trial a week ago.
Hinge said Rankine, who played mostly forward on Friday with spurts in the middle and was rested after four quarters, was better than he had realised before Adelaide traded for him in October.
“His follow-up, his footy nous – he’s a really good player and I can’t wait to see what he brings this year,” Hinge said.
“He’s got himself really fit and trains as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen.
“The sky’s the limit for him, he’s a sensational talent and a really good man as well.”
Although mindful that it was only a pre-season game, Hinge said the side would take confidence from its performance against Fremantle.
Adelaide was smashed in the midfield in the opening stages and struggled to get the ball forward, but pegged the Dockers back late in the first term then piled on five unanswered goals in the third quarter.
It was 11 points ahead after four terms, when both clubs rested the bulk of their best players.
Hinge said Jordan Dawson’s first rev-up as captain was very good and exactly what the team needed to quell its pre-game nerves.
Several Crows players featured in each of the seven periods against the Dockers and Hinge was glad he was not among them.
“They were pretty knackered last night,” he said with a laugh.
“Crouchy (Matt Crouch) might have had 105 disposals.”
Adelaide high-performance staff planned to assess defender Josh Worrell’s injured hamstring on Monday, ahead of the club’s clash with West Coast in Perth on Friday.
Worrell came off the ground during the first quarter and did not return to the field.
‘DIFFICULT’ CALLS TO BE MADE AT SELECTION TABLE FOR CROWS
Ten months on from a season-ending knee injury, Rory Sloane made a strong return for the Crows in their pre-season match simulation against Fremantle at Victor George Kailis Oval in Perth on Friday.
Wearing strapping on his right knee, the former captain lined up on a wing, moved well and found plenty of the ball, in a game where each side’s A-grade players featured
It did not take long for the veteran to have an influence.
He came off the ground after 11 minutes before coming back on and booting a nice goal, capitalising on a Dockers turnover then snapping from about 35m.
Sloane, who stepped aside as skipper this month for Jordan Dawson to take over, landed awkwardly in a contest with Will Hamill and Lachie Schultz in the second term, but brushed it off and continued.
He did not look hampered by his knee at all and offered plenty in his new role.
CREDIT DUE AFTER SHAKY START
Responding well from a “pretty shaky” start was the biggest positive for Adelaide from its match simulation against Fremantle in Perth on Friday evening, according to Crows assistant Nathan van Berlo.
The visitors were down 11 clearances and eight points at the first break of the seven-period game before turning things around.
They kicked five unanswered goals in the third term to take the ascendancy and were 11 points ahead after four quarters, when both clubs decided to rest the bulk of their best players.
Although there were slight structural tweaks, van Berlo said part of it was a mindset in needing to put more pressure on the Dockers, stick tackles and be cleaner around the contest.
“It was definitely a slow start for us,” van Berlo said.
“I thought we were pretty shaky early and we definitely let them jump us, our contest work was a fair way off.
“But to the boys’ credit, they were able to turn that around in the back end of the first quarter and after quarter-time to play more of the type of footy we want to play.
“We come away pretty happy with today and how we looked.”
Van Berlo was very happy for veteran Rory Sloane, who performed well in his first game back against an opposition since his season-ending knee injury in April last year.
Sloane played on a wing, moved well, found plenty of the ball and ticked another box in his goal to feature in round 1.
“He’s been itching to play some footy and looked sharp out there today,” van Berlo said.
Van Berlo said big men Elliott Himmelberg (played well, two goals), Darcy Fogarty (among the best, two), Riley Thilthorpe, Taylor Walker (rested) and Reilly O’Brien all would not fit in the same team come the season-opener so there would be difficult selection calls next week.
Thilthorpe was one of the few Crows who played in the main part of the match, as well as beyond the fourth period.
Defender Josh Worrell (hamstring) was the Crows’ only injury concern.
Izak Rankine, Luke Jackson and Jaeger O’Meara all gave their new clubs’ fans a nice glimpse into what they were capable of.
Boom Crows recruit Rankine had been quiet early, before coming alive during an impressive second quarter.
First, the ex-Gold Coast Sun calmly slotted a set-shot goal from a tight angle, then he swooped on a ground ball, baulked and snapped his second major over his head.
He added a third and looked dangerous whenever he was near the footy.
Rankine attempted an ambitious – for most players, at least – left-foot volley at goal in the last quarter that went out on the full.
But it was the type of chance you would not have been surprised if he had slotted, knowing his ability to kick majors from the barest of opportunities.
Jackson’s presence in attack and the ruck gave the Crows some headaches.
The former Melbourne big man presented well and used his athleticism to trouble defenders and Reilly O’Brien alike.
Jackson split time between the middle and forward line, sharing the workload with Sean Darcy.
He kicked a goal and also set one up, tapping to O’Meara, who hit a charging Nat Fyfe on the lead from deep in the forward line.
O’Meara was industrious, playing as an inside midfielder and found plenty of the ball in the first quarter in particular.
Adelaide forward Darcy Fogarty picked up where he left off last season, playing with confidence, presence and strength.
He finished with two majors, worked hard up the ground and was responsible for the day’s best fend-off.
Such is the way he has been playing, it is easy to forget him being dropped after round 3 last season.
Fogarty fought back to finish with 33 goals from 17 games in 2022 and a 50-major haul could be on the cards this year the way he was looking.
Midfielder Sam Berry, also looked to have taken another step in his game, powering from contests with his typically bruising approach.
Brownlow Medallist Fyfe’s new role playing deep in attack was promising for the Dockers.
Fyfe kicked an equal game-high three goals and worked well with talls Taberner (two majors) and Jackson (one).
The former captain looked noticeably trimmer but had not lost his strength around the ball, nor his class.
In one late passage, he intercepted, twisted, turned then delivered excellently to Liam Henry.
Crows defender Josh Worrell sustained a hamstring issue during the first term and took no further part in the game.
Worrell had started the game on Jackson deep in the backline.
New skipper Dawson came off late as a precaution due to a knee knock but was said to be fine.
Dawson was also involved in a heavy collision and hurt his ribs when a teammate jumped into his back during a marking contest, leading him to be taken off the ground.
The former Swan returned to the field shortly after.
Fremantle 4.3 6.5 8.5 10.6 (66)
Adelaide 3.1 6.2 11.3 12.5 (77)
* After four periods
Fremantle: Fyfe 3, Taberner 2, Schultz, Treacy, Switkowski, Jackson, Banfield
Adelaide: Rankine 3, McAdam, Fogarty, Himmelberg 2, Dawson, Sloane, Pedlar
Originally published as Crows pre-season news: Josh Rachele hopes to join midfield mix
#AFL #practice #game #Adelaide #Fremantle #Reilly #OBrien #Taylor #Walker #Jordan #Dawson #injury #Izak #Rankine #Rory #Sloane