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Tough stuff the key for Laird

Harry Thring, AFL Media  March 24, 2015 10:00 AM

AFL 2015 NAB Challenge - Adelaide v North Melbourne

Rory Laird and Sam Kerridge of the Crows tackle Nick Dal Santo of the Kangaroos during the 2015 NAB Challenge Week 1 match between the Adelaide Crows and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Centenary Oval, Port Lincoln on March 01, 2015. (Photo: AFL Media)

Adelaide’s Rory Laird relies on the principle that it's the size of the fight in the dog that counts, not the size of the dog in the fight.

The 178cm defender believes his aggression and attack on the football is paramount to his success at the top level.

Laird fell out of the Crows' side late last year but his pre-season form has reflected his ambition to start 2015 in the Club's starting 22.

Laird hit the first marking contest of the pre-season with exactly the sort of commitment coach Phil Walsh would like to see – marking strongly over North Melbourne's Ryan Bastinac in Port Lincoln.

He accumulated 18 possessions against Geelong and was again impressive last Saturday against Port Adelaide, putting his body on the line on numerous occasions and getting under his opponents' skin.

"That's the way Walshy wants us to play, we've got to be strong around the ball and strong around the contest," Laird said.

"Especially down in defence, if you can read the play well and get into positions where you can cut off the ball it sometimes puts you in the way of on-coming players.

"It's something I use personally."

Laird's struggles with his kicking led to him falling out of the senior side last year but he was confident it had improved over the summer.

His statistics in Saturday's win supports his confidence; his 13 disposals came at 85 per cent efficiency and each of his seven kicks found their intended target.

The 21-year-old's versatility relies on sound skills; he's been used as a small forward and midfielder as well has his go-to position in defence.

"I've put a bit of work into it over the off-season, worked with a couple of development coaches – just trying to narrow it in," he said.

"Last year I fell away with my kick and it hurt my game ... to play AFL you've got to have a pretty good kick and I think I've been kicking all right during the NAB Challenge.

"Hopefully I can keep doing it going forward."

Adelaide and Laird will train hard this week before taking three days off ahead of the first week of the premiership season.

The Crows take on North Melbourne at Adelaide Oval on Sunday, April 5.