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by | Jun 23, 2022 | Editorial | 0 comments

Just over two years ago I wrote that Adelaide needed to get dynamic at the selection table for the second half of 2020. They were in the infancy of their so-called rebuild then. The premise was – find out what you’ve got. End the season knowing exactly who you need to move on and who’s worth keeping. In 2022, as they look to take a different tack at the end of this season by focusing on the trade table, the same applies. It’s time to see what the players who’ve languished on the list with limited or no opportunity – even in a rebuilding side – can do at AFL level.

Adelaide’s Head of Football (whatever that means) Adam Kelly was quoted this week saying, “…We’re very open-minded this trade period about the need to bring in some mature talent.” So, as Twitter user @corywsutton put it, looks like Adelaide’s first pick is on the table.

If that’s the case, then logic dictates that the list management committee would currently be busy figuring out who’s a keeper and who isn’t.

Out of Contract Players

The players on Adelaide’s list that are out of contract at the end of this season are:

Ben DavisUnrestricted Free Agent
Billy FramptonNon-Free Agent
Elliott HimmelbergNon-Free Agent
James BorlaseNon-Free Agent
James RoweNon-Free Agent
Luke NankervisNon-Free Agent
Mitchell HingeUnrestricted Free Agent
Patrick ParnellNon-Free Agent
Tariek NewchurchNon-Free Agent
Taylor WalkerUnrestricted Free Agent

Brett Turner is also on this list, but you’d imagine unless he does something very wrong, he’s virtually guaranteed a one-year extension.

The club has confirmed that it will offer Walker a new contract and it seems unlikely that Rowe, Hinge and Parnell won’t be offered new deals. From the remainder, Himmelberg is the only player that stands out as having any real trade value, and even then, it wouldn’t be of any special magnificence. Which poses the question, could a contracted player be used as a carrot?

Kelly’s words infer that the club will primarily be looking to use picks in trade negotiations, but it’s only natural to wonder if any of these players might find themselves as the steak knives in multi-club deal.

It seems to defy common sense that Borlase, Nankervis or Newchurch might be delisted after as many as three seasons on the list without ever seeing an AFL field of play.

Adelaide cannot make finals. There is simply nothing to lose in giving these three a block of say three games each. A star might be uncovered, because we’re all well aware that SANFL form doesn’t always align with AFL ability. Trade value might be increased if they perform solidly. At worst, if they show nothing, you’ve got some evidence with which to justify an unceremonious de-listing.  

Contracted Players Starved of Opportunity

The term ‘rebuild’ has been in a constant state of flow at Adelaide over the past three years. When facing hard questions about losses, it’s been trotted out to explain away all manner of sins. Yet, after the best wins, it’s been nowhere to be found. One wonders how often they actually speak about it internally.

Whether or not you subscribe to the rebuilding philosophy, the truth is undeniable. Adelaide has had, for some time, the youngest and most inexperienced list in the competition. The second half of season 2022 presents them with an opportunity to change that, if only in a small way.

Of the contracted players that have been starved of exposure to the highest level, Fischer McAsey and Josh Worrell stand out. Neither’s recent SANFL form has been poor, so keeping them down for the rest of this year seems wasteful. McAsey certainly isn’t the deer-in-the-headlights teen that played a fistful of games in 2020. And Worrell has come a long way since the one game he was gifted in 2021. There simply isn’t a good reason not give them both a fresh crack.

Fischer McAsey and Jordan Butts
Rebuilding Adelaide – a tale of two stories – Fischer McAsey and Jordan Butts

Promising Young Talent Languishing in the SANFL

I’m a fan of Matthew Nicks. I can see the vision. If, though, I was asked to be critical of just one thing, it would be this. Young talent that has showed so much promise shouldn’t be languishing in the SANFL.

The name that comes to mind quickest on this topic is Harry Schoenberg. I’m convinced Schoenberg will one day be an elite midfielder of the competition. It’s a hill I’m willing to die on. Much of the discussion among Crows fans on Twitter recently has lamented the club’s lack of midfielders with pace, explosiveness and genuine game breaking ability. Harry has all of that. Are there elements of his game he needs to work on? Certainly. His delivery inside 50 leaves something to be desired and his work rate without the ball needs improvement.

Those things noted, a review of his game against Port Adelaide in Round 3 will reveal 23 disposals, 9 tackles, 75% disposal efficiency, 6 inside 50s and a goal. That’s an impressive game by anyone’s standards. Most importantly, it was only his 34th game – at age 21. I understand that his other six games this year weren’t Brownlow vote worthy. But if you’re doing that at 21, at 25 logic dictates you’re in the top 20 mids in the competition. For pure game-breaking potential, he’s unrivalled as a young player on this list.

So why is he playing SANFL? Nicks has said it’s about him ‘working on some things’. What I ponder is why he can’t be working on those and be playing AFL? Given that it’s a rebuilding team in which several other players continue to play AFL while working on aspects of their game. Nicksy does love the phrase, “that’s a work on.”

Other players worth mentioning in this space are Brayden Cook, who has shown plenty at AFL level; Lachlan Sholl who seems to yo-yo in and out of favour with no discernible connection to form; and Chayce Jones, who appeared to do very little wrong to lose his spot in the side.

Throw the Magnets Out

In short, Nicks and co have an opportunity in the second half of 2022. I’m not naïve enough to think that they don’t know that, but evidence would suggest that there’s at least a reasonable chance that they won’t take it. So here’s hoping they do. The fans want it, and it won’t be the least bit detrimental to the overall trajectory of the rebuild.

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