Brad Crouch of the Crows handballs against the Western Bulldogs. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Brad Crouch of the Crows handballs against the Western Bulldogs. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Why Crouch is now Crows’ best bet

HAVING parted with Eddie Betts, Adelaide must double down on retaining Brad Crouch or face a continued narrative of its best and brightest deserting West Lakes.

Brad Crouch joining Patrick Dangerfield leaving Adelaide in the year they won gold jackets would be unfortunate regardless of a change to fluid loyalty in club land.

A Crouch departure would leave Adelaide's midfield exposed without quality reinforcement.

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"There is a tipping point and I have been frustrated at clubs I have been in where you can become too young. You need some senior heads around the place to lead the way," Essendon great Matthew Lloyd told Trade Radio.

"How many players can they lose? Look at it over the years Paddy Dangerfield, Jake Lever, Charlie Cameron and in recent times Hugh Greenwood, Sam Jacobs, Alex Keath. Now you are talking about just giving up on your best and fairest.

"I would keep Brad Crouch, not if he wants too much money but you want senior, good players around the club to support young players."

A future fourth-round draft pick from Carlton for Betts will be next to worthless for Crows list manager Justin Reid. The silver lining is Adelaide pays just a quarter of veteran Betts' contract next season while clearing around $350,000 of cap space.

Club champion Brad Crouch after winning the Malcolm Blight Medal this month. Picture Mark Brake
Club champion Brad Crouch after winning the Malcolm Blight Medal this month. Picture Mark Brake

The first priority of Adelaide's ninth senior coach is to connect with and settle 83-game on-baller Crouch long-term at West Lakes.

Gold Coast offered overs at around $825,000 per season to snare Crouch. There are no shortage of Victorian suitors for Crouch, a restricted free agent next season. Crows fans won't stomach Ballarat product Crouch lining up at Geelong in 2021.

If Matthew Nicks - as expected - succeeds Don Pyke as Crows coach then his highly credentialed relationship building skills will be priceless in assuaging stars headlined by Malcolm Blight medallist Crouch.

Crouch this month said "I'm hoping to play at the Adelaide Footy Club for as long as I can".

Some of the money saved from Betts' cost shift could be used to accommodate Brad Crouch if the club desired.

Brad Crouch handballs against Essendon. Picture: AAP Image/David Mariuz
Brad Crouch handballs against Essendon. Picture: AAP Image/David Mariuz

While Crouch's Crows future could boil down to hard cash, Betts' Adelaide finish is a melancholy moment for those with emotional attachment to players and club.

The romance in Betts' 316-game AFL journey points to the three-time All Australian having the last laugh at Carlton, rejuvenated by close friend and senior coach David Teague.

Betts won a fourth goal of-the-year gong this season but had arguably played his best football in tri-colours. Dropped in round 19 last season, Betts became disenchanted with coaching staff who, ironically, are no longer at the club after Jason Dunstall's external football department review.

There is no sugar-coating Betts' exit - it rips soul from a club routinely painted as a corporation.

That Betts was so unhappy at Adelaide he felt compelled to take a pay cut to escape is unfortunate for a player deeply embraced by fans and idolised by children.

The biggest losers at West Lakes from Betts return to Carlton are two-game forward Tyson Stengle and brilliant Wayne Milera, now deprived of the game's leading indigenous mentor.

Betts has described his Blues homecoming as a 'fairytale' but it is Adelaide that needs a happy ending this trade period and national draft after two troubled seasons. With no flag since 1998 and a club favourite released, patience is running thin for Adelaide's loyal fans.

News Corp Australia


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