The reigning premiers, Adelaide Crows AFLW might still be on a high from 2017, but they’re already packing in 2018 with an intense preseason to back up their inaugural campaign. In recent days the club announced that inaugural co-captains Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall had been chosen to again lead the team for 2018.
— Erin Phillips (@erinphillips131) January 21, 2018
The Coach: Bec Goddard
Co-Captains: Chelsea Randall and Erin Phillips
While Phillips won just about every award at the Crows, she has officially retired from her basketball career in the past week, creating more time to spend prolonging her football career. The next step for the club will be to utilise this time to set up a pathway for the next crop of draftees to work alongside the senior players for sustained success. Given Adelaide was the only club not to gain a player from a rival club, they remain very reliant on individual stars including Ebony Marinoff and cult-hero Sarah ‘Tex’ Perkins alongside the co-captains to lead the team.
Already rated above average by Champion Data, Marinoff — who only just turned 20 a couple of months ago — won the Rising Star Award and is set for an even bigger season learning from the best. 21 of the 30 players on the list are in the prime of their careers (between 23 and 29 years old), while only at Courtney Cramey and Erin Phillips are older at 32 years of age.
The partnership with AFL NT will again be tested as they look to take a home game to the Top End again, later in the season. Just seven players on the list hail from the NT this season, two less than last year. While some players have already achieved the ultimate success in their first season, the reality is that only two-thirds of the squad (20 of 30) played in the premiership, giving the rest of the team and fresh faces a boost to improve.
Where they sat in 2017:
The premiers only lost two games — both by less than a kick. While they were by far the most attacking side averaging 42 points per game, they snuck into the top three on defence at 26 points against per game.
Few can forget the inaccurate Grand Final where the Crows won by six behinds (scoring 4.11.35), so that will be a focus for their sophomore season. While Phillips led the league in clearances, there is much groundwork to do by the rest of the side as they ranked seventh overall. 15 players played every game last season, creating unity among the group.
IN: Jessica Allan (pick 8), Jasmyn Hewett (pick 16), Eloise Jones (pick 24), Marijana Rajcic (pick 32), Ruth Wallace (pick 37), Rheanne Lugg (pick 41), Calista Boyd (rookie draft — pick 8), Brianna Walling (rookie draft — pick 15), Becchara Palmer (rookie selection).
OUT: Kellie Gibson (Fremantle), Jasmine Anderson, Tayla Thorn, Monique Hollick, Heather Anderson and Lauren O’Shea (delisted).
The preseason so far:
While the bulk of the players will come back for round one, there are no obvious signs of injuries so far, citing a clean bill of health from the practice match last week against Fremantle. Although it was only a practice match, the Crows suffered a 12 point loss in Darwin at Marrara Stadium. It was enough to see the early markings of the club experimenting with fresh players in hot conditions. Just as the Dockers won the same trial match last year, the Crows have looked to change their squad to adapt to new rules including 21 players per match this year. Joint vice-captain Ange Foley stood in to lead the team as most leaders sat out to allow coach Bec Goddard to see how the team gelled. The two sides will rendezvous at the venue again in Round 6 for official points.
Who to watch:
The Allan sisters have been touted the next big thing younger sister Jessica joins 20-year-old Sarah on the list. While the latter may have more experience so far with a premiership to her name, the former holds her own coming in at pick 8 in the draft, thanks to captaining the Croweaters’ AFLW Under-18 Championships last year, with 180 Champion Data points (fourth in the competition), and averaging 21 hitouts, 11 disposals and three marks over five games.
Keep an eye on code-hoppers Ruth Wallace (former Matildas player) who has become a goalkicking machine in the past year, and Becchara Palmer off the rookie list in the event of any injuries. The 30 year-old is a world-champion beach volleyballer who has switched codes but also played Aussie Rules in high school.
The Crows will already be looking to round one against the Brisbane Lions to launch their premiership defence. As they unfurl their flag, expect the Lions to come out firing to avenge their only loss of last year in the grand final. Although they have four home games, they must travel away from Norwood Oval four times with the home-away-from-home in Darwin, before finishing the season off against Collingwood at Olympic Park.
While it may be early and perhaps a cliche, I’m going with the Crows to win back-to-back flags.
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