Adelaide Crows captain Chelsea Randall says the team has a fire in its belly after last year’s grand final loss to the Brisbane Lions.
2021 was another stellar year for the Crows, making it to their third AFLW grand final.
For most of the team, it was their first grand final at any level of competition and the loss has left them hungry.
The result of the loss has led to what Randall has called her “best and hardest pre-season” , with the younger players looking to improve their games and pick up where they left off.
A COVID 19 diagnosis resulted in head coach Matthew Clarke being in isolation for 10 days over the Christmas period, shaking up the tail end of the pre-season.
Whilst it was a challenge it was a situation that allowed the group to step up.
“It empowers others to step up and have a voice. It’s been good to see the coaches band together, they did a tremendous job as well as our leaders,” Randall said.
We have two new leaders in Ebony Marinoff and Stevie-Lee Thompson and they just took the reins, it’s fantastic to see.
“It means if circumstances like this come up throughout the season, we have the depth of leadership that can ensure we’re well supported as a group going forward.”
Clarke himself says that the playing group “took it upon themselves to maintain the standard”.
It is a great sign for the club which has seen a raft of fresh faces come into the coaching panel this year.
Premiership player Courtney Cramey has returned as a midfield coach, being joined by Emma Sampson as backline coach.
Leah Kasler and former AFL player Jack Hombsch complete the line-up as development coaches.
The addition of the development coaches is where the club is investing to deliver more support to the players in the off season to build more consistent on-field performances.
One area that could prove difficult this year is the ruck department, with the experienced Rhiannon Metcalfe being placed on the inactive list.
This has left a spot which the club is not yet sure how it is going to fill.
In the mix for round 1 is Caitlin Gould, Jasmyn Hewitt and Montana McKinnon. All have delivered strong performances on the training track, with the final call to be made Wednesday night at team selection.
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An exciting addition to complete the 2022 squad came today with the signing of McKenzie Dowrick.
The 21-year-old recently made the move to Adelaide from Perth to join Woodville-West Torrens in the SANFLW competition, after previously being on the AFLW lists at Brisbane and West Coast.
With the AFL allowing up to 10 extra players to train with teams, McKenzie impressed enough to take one of the inactive spots and return to the AFL sooner than she had hoped.
“She is a great kick, 50-55 metres which is something that is pretty unique in the AFLW, left footer with good composure and elite ball use,” Clarke said.
With a write up like that from the head coach, there is a lot to be excited about.
She has the ability to play at both ends of the ground, which is something that can help elevate the Crows on game day.
From the back half she can send it down the forward line to Erin Phillips which would put immense pressure on opposition teams.
With COVID-19 causing changes to the fixture, the Crows are now facing Brisbane in round 1 which gives them the opportunity to test out the changes they have made since they last met.
The game which is being held at Flinders University Stadium, will be the first time the Crows have played there.
While many people talking up the grand final rematch Clarke says it’s an opportunity.
“It’s our first chance, what is really exciting is the amount of work that has gone in from the players perspective in terms of their preparation its been unbelievable and as always there’s just that extra little bit of excitement and anticipation around round 1,” he said.
The Crows take on Brisbane in round 1 of the AFLW season on Sunday January 9 at1:40PM at Flinders University Stadium.
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