‘We don’t have answer’: Crows’ big injury toll headache
DANIEL Talia concedes Adelaide's injury toll can't be sustained with Wayne Milera joining high-end casualties entering Showdown 44 against a humiliated Port Adelaide with plenty to prove.
"We don't want to keep losing guys, I don't know the answer for it. We have had a fair few injuries, hopefully we can get on top of it because it is a lot of our better players at the moment," defensive linchpin Talia said.
Adelaide's elite core has been hit by injury this campaign. Eddie Betts, skipper Taylor Walker, club champion Matt Crouch, key defender Kyle Hartigan, Kyle Cheney, Lachlan Murphy and Sam Gibson have succumbed to Adelaide's hamstring epidemic.
Walker on Monday revealed Milera, Adelaide's first pick at No. 11 in the 2015 national AFL draft, incurred a similar" ailment on Saturday night against Carlton to the hamstring irritation that sidelined the power forward captain.
Vice-captain Rory Sloane is pushing to return from a foot strain while Riley Knight is being 'managed'. Key midfielder Brad Crouch (groin) and defender Alex Keath (ankle) are around two weeks from resuming.
Getting back on the horse following a grand final has become the ultimate physical and mental challenge in recent years, as Western Bulldogs and Sydney found last year. Shortened pre-seasons create havoc with conditioning. Richmond, however, has shot out of the blocks in its premiership defence.
"The club is looking at it, we don't really have the answer yet whether it is coming off a long year or just a smaller pre-season who knows," said Talia of the injury angst which Adelaide concedes is requiring "modifications" to its training regimen.
"Once we get our best side in hopefully we can keep building and really get rolling in the second half of the year."
Walker and Sloane must prove their fitness this week with off-contract forward Tom Lynch leading Adelaide to a 55-point win against the Blues.
Darcy Fogarty, Jake Kelly and Jordan Gallucci will be sweating over Showdown spots.
"It is an interesting one, there are going to be a few unlucky guys. We have some really good depth but had a lot of injuries," said Talia of third-placed Adelaide.
Port Adelaide will most recall Sam Powell-Pepper and Tom Rockliff having fallen from top after three rounds to 11th following a 42-point loss to West Coast at Optus Stadium.
"They will be ready to go, regardless of where you are on the ladder or form it is 50-50 on the day and both clubs know that. It will be a great game and an intense one in front of a Port crowd," said Talia, with Adelaide leading the Showdown win tally 22-21.
Talia's offsider, All-Australian Rory Laird, has been one constant for Adelaide this year and the first AFL player to post 30-plus possessions over the opening seven rounds of a season.
"He is an important player for us Lairdy, really rebounds off that halfback line, he dictates to forwards now and they don't really know what to do with him," Talia said.
Adelaide could hold an edge in ruck with Paddy Ryder regaining match condition and Sam Jacobs targeting a fourth Showdown Medal.
"Paddy Ryder is a great player, one of the best ruckmen in the competition. They have had some great battles over the years," said Talia.