Elliott Himmelberg’s strong summer form has made life at the selection table difficult for Adelaide going into round 1. Plus an update from both the Crows and Power’s pre-seasons.
The pre-season form of key forward Elliott Himmelberg is causing a talls selection squeeze at Adelaide ahead of round 1.
After playing SANFL for most of the second half of last season, Himmelberg has responded with a strong summer, including being among the Crows’ best in the match simulation against Fremantle in Perth on Friday, to put himself in the frame to face GWS next month.
Along with kicking two goals, the 24-year-old played well in the ruck in the win over the Dockers, helping to turn the game after Adelaide struggled in the middle early and trailed by eight points at quarter-time.
Himmelberg finished the 2022 campaign behind spearheads Taylor Walker, Darcy Fogarty and Riley Thilthorpe, but he would be difficult to overlook for the season-opener in Sydney on March 19.
Crows assistant Nathan van Berlo conceded there was not room to play all four with ruckman Reilly O’Brien.
O’Brien said the talls’ selection battle was “a good dilemma to have and probably something we haven’t had as much the last few years”.
“Everyone wants competition in their spot, otherwise you can get complacent,” O’Brien said.
“Elliott’s looking really good and been training well all pre-season.
“His pressure and ground level stuff for a big man is elite, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do this year for the team.”
Himmelberg played more SANFL games (13) than AFL ones (11) last year.
Thilthorpe, who lined up across most of Friday’s seven-period game, could be the forward to make way if Himmelberg was picked to face the Giants.
O’Brien described them as similar back-up ruckmen – mobile, almost like having another midfielder at ground level and strong in the air.
“I certainly help them with their ruck craft and want them to be as good as possible,” he said.
O’Brien faced one of the AFL’s newest – and best – combinations on Friday, Sean Darcy and Luke Jackson.
“As a midfield group in the first quarter we were a little bit off with our connection and didn’t adapt that well, but after quarter-time I felt really good in there,” he said.
O’Brien was unaware of occasional fan criticism of his position, saying he listened to teammates and coaches.
“I take pride in what we’re doing around the clearance, so I’m not necessarily looking at my stats, but how we’re operating as a group,” he said.
O’Brien was this month chosen in the Crows’ leadership group for a second straight year.
He said he did not strive to become captain when Rory Sloane stood aside and Jordan Dawson was chosen as his successor.
“I love leading the group and having a positive influence on everyone but Dawson coming in as captain was a great decision by the club,” he said.
Adelaide veteran Taylor Walker has arrived in Western Australia as the Crows step up preparations for their final pre-season hitout.
Walker was rested for last week’s match simulation but he trained in Perth on Monday ahead of the clash with West Coast.
Defender Josh Worrell will miss the next game due to a hamstring injury he sustained in the first quarter against the Dockers and is in doubt to face GWS in round 1.
Worrell was on light duties for Monday’s session at South Fremantle Football Club, riding an exercise bike.
He was sidelined with an injury to the same hamstring earlier in pre-season.
Fellow backman Andrew McPherson, who underwent season-ending posterior cruciate ligament surgery in July, was in skills drills in a promising sign for his comeback.
McPherson last week told the Crows’ website that after three months of injury rehabilitation he was seeing “the light at the end of the tunnel”.
Unlike Port Adelaide, the Crows will keep their full squad in Perth this week.
Adelaide’s reserves players will feature in a game after the A-grade match against the Eagles.
The Power had a quiet Monday, ahead of its main session in Perth on Tuesday.
Midfielder Travis Boak will be assessed after suffering bruised ribs against West Coast and he is yet to be ruled out of Port’s clash with Fremantle on Thursday.
Darcy Byrne-Jones (back) and Jackson Mead (hamstring tightness) are doubtful.
The Power is confident Charlie Dixon (ribs) and Zak Butters (shoulder) will play after missing the Eagles’ game.
Originally published as Adelaide Crows news: All the latest from West Lakes in the lead up to round 1