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Jenkins chasing opportunity

Harry Thring  January 24, 2013 10:16 AM

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Josh Jenkins sweats it out at pre-season training

I'm lucky that I've got some athletic traits that not many guys my size have and I want to take advantage of those

FEW PLAYERS preparing for 2013 are being forced to shoulder as much expectation as Adelaide's Josh Jenkins.

When Kurt Tippett revealed he wanted to leave the City of Churches in favour of the Harbour City, Jenkins instantly became the man who would fill the hole left in Adelaide's forward line.

The common cry from Crows players, coaches and fans was that with Jenkins at Adelaide, Tippett would not be missed.

Players are often encouraged to ignore what's said about them externally, but Jenkins has enjoyed the ongoing encouragement.

He's a realist though; while admitting the hype has increased his confidence, the 23-year-old knows the public's praise can quickly turn into damnation.

"I reckon I probably do feed off it a little bit," Jenkins told AFL.com.au of his take on internal and external support.

"Guys obviously give you a little bit more encouragement and coaches subconsciously probably put a bit more time into you with that position up for grabs.

"It's nice to have good things said about you; footy's a fickle game and there's probably more negative things written about players than positive really, but in late January it doesn't count for too much.

"If the performances aren't there then the negative stuff will start to come, so you've got to take it for what it is and not get too carried away."

Clearly, Jenkins thrives on confidence and right now, he's brimming with it.

Even if Tippett was a Crow, Jenkins said his best footy would be good enough to earn a position in the side and, based on several 2012 performances including a 20-possession, two-goal effort against West Coast in round 17.

At 197cm and weighing in at more than 100kg but possessing the agility, vertical leap and speed of a midfielder, Jenkins is a very capable player.

"I'm lucky that I've got some athletic traits that not many guys my size have and I want to take advantage of those," he said.

"I've been able to score PBs in pretty much all my running, so hopefully that will stand me in good stead and help get me through the whole year instead of only two thirds, which was what happened last year."

It seems Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson's most difficult decision regarding Jenkins will be where to play him this year.

Sanderson has refused to lock him in as a forward, claiming his side mustn't necessarily replace Tippett with another big, power forward.

With an abundance of elite smaller forwards Jason Porplyzia, Richard Douglas and Ian Callinan at his disposal, the coach has options.

Jenkins could even find himself down back in 2013 after training with the defensive group at times this pre-season.

Embracing versatility might be in his best interests, but in an ideal world he said there was no doubt where he would line up.

"I'd love to make one of those key forward spots my own and just focus on playing there every week, but versatility gives me more options to play," he said.

"If you can go down back and fill a hole, or go into the ruck as well as go forward, it gives you a better chance to play each week.

"I'm trying to be flexible and I'll still be required to do my stints in the ruck and help out [ruckman] Sam Jacobs, so I'm just starting to ramp that up now, and I also have to be ready to go down back."

Harry Thring is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Harry.