Josh Worrell

The Crows were bolstered by the return of Josh Worrell on Sunday, and will now get to see plenty more of him in the coming years. (Picture adelaidefc.com.au)

Adelaide Crows assistant coach Nathan Van Berlo was full of praise on the return of defender Josh Worrell, who marked his return to the senior side with a career-best showing which saw him sign a two-year contract extension.

During the Crows’ 17-point win against Brisbane on Sunday, the young backline showed strong skill in holding their opposition to one goal in the third term to set up the win against a fellow finals contender.

When fronting the media on Monday, Van Berlo had strong praise for the Adelaide defence, which included first-year player Max Michalanney and Worrell.

“It’s massive for young guys to be able to learn how to hang tough in those sorts of moments,” he said.

“Josh Worrell comes in for his first game, in a long time for us, and he slots straight in. He shows us why he’s been playing SANFL footy at such a high level, and he’s able to come in and execute his role.

“Max Michalanney, we’ve sung his praises a number of times, and he had his work cut out for him yesterday. Charlie’s (Charlie Cameron) a very slippery unit, but Max, we’re really happy with how he went about his business and made Charlie earn every bit of what he got yesterday.

“Our guys, it’s one soldier out, and we lost ‘Hingey’ (Mitch Hinge) as well, so it’s Hingey and Brodie Smith out, who have been solid members for us this year, and the boys held up, better than ok.”

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Hot off of Worrell’s return, and career-best numbers of 19 disposals, came the announcement of a two-year contract extension at West Lakes for the young defender.

Van Berlo spoke about Worrell’s story leading up to this point, after breaking into the senior team late in 2022.

“Josh is a great story, when I first came back to the club a few years ago, Josh was really raw, you could see the talent that he had, and he had a lot of work to do on his game,” he said.

“To his credit, he put his head down, bum up, and got to work, and now we’re seeing a huge deal of consistency in his game, and growth in him as a person, and physically, how he goes about his footy now.

“[It’s] great reward for effort for Joshy, I know when it was announced to the playing group, they were super excited about him being rewarded for the hard effort they’ve seen him put in, and it was great to see him back in the side on the weekend.

“For all our young guys, it’s pleasing to see him develop and get reward for effort.”

Despite a strong start to the season that sees the Crows inside the top eight heading into the bye rounds, Van Berlo is quick to hose down any talk of what Adelaide can achieve in 2023.

“The season to date has been a step in the right direction for us, and we’ve said all along we’re nowhere near a finished product yet,” he said.

“What we do get out of yesterday, is some confidence that we can compete and take it to, one of the best sides, if not the [a] premiership contender this year.

“We said the same thing against Collingwood only a few weeks ago, [we] weren’t able to get the job done, and we’ve got some other big tests coming up in the back end of the year.

“We haven’t set our sights any further than what’s going to be a big challenge this week.

“Gold Coast are in some great form, similar spot on the ladder to where we are, so it becomes a huge game for us. That challenge away from home at a neutral venue for us, to take it to them, and hopefully give us some momentum.”

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