Jared Petrenko is always reluctant to say he’s cemented his place in the Adelaide team.
He came close to accepting it as fact in 2012.
In his fifth year at the Club, the former rookie played 23 games, missing only two matches through injury. It was the most games he’s played in a single season, eclipsing his previous best of 15 (2011).
He was also acknowledged by the Crows’ coaching and development staff, included in the newly-established ‘emerging leaders’ group. He kicked multiple goals in four of the opening seven matches playing as a forward and earned plaudits for his fierce tackling and kamikaze-like attack on the ball.
It was his best year at AFL level by far, but a quieter finish to the season – not helped by a dislocated shoulder – has Petrenko out to prove himself again in 2013.
“I was pretty happy with the first two-thirds of my season, but I’m still a bit disappointed with the last little bit. I haven’t had a full season I’ve been happy with at AFL level yet … I’m still looking to do that,” Petrenko told afc.com.au.
“In the early part of the year I was thinking ‘I’m here now, I do belong’, but I’d like to do that for a whole season. It was disappointing to drop away a bit especially at the pointy end of the season.
“I want to be a player that can have an impact at that time of year, so that’s a goal of mine.”
There were several contributing factors behind Petrenko’s career-best season.
The 22-year-old had a better run with injury (although he played with plantar fasciitis in the middle part of the season) and also found his niche in the forward line. Recruited as a wingman/half-back flanker, Petrenko didn’t play in attack until joining Adelaide.
It took time for him to adjust to the new role, but things clicked into place this year when new coach Brenton Sanderson and forward line mentor Mark Bickley started assigning the versatile Crow shut-down roles on the opposition’s most damaging defender.
Petrenko played on the likes of Geelong premiership star Corey Enright, All Australian Bulldog Bob Murphy, emerging Port Adelaide onballer Hamish Hartlett, and brothers Heath and Rhyce Shaw.
“I’ve got a naturally defensive side to my game, so it wasn’t too hard to adapt to that part of my role,” Petrenko said.
“I want to improve my consistency in regards to having an impact on the scoreboard each week and getting more of the footy. I’d like to do that a bit more rather than just in the odd game here and there.
“I loved playing in the