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Depth key to development squad

David Burtenshaw  March 26, 2015 4:08 PM

Adelaide v Port Magpies SANFL Trial

Noarlunga's Nick Mott in action for the SANFL Crows during their opening trial match at Alberton Oval

We’ve had a bit more time to put that squad together and as a result I’m confident with where we are at.

Adelaide’s nine-month search for development players appears to have created a deeper pool of talent for the SANFL side in 2015.

Most of the non-AFL listed players used in last Saturday’s SANFL trial against Port Adelaide showed signs of being able to handle the demands of league footy when required.

“It seems to be that way at the moment,” Crows SANFL coach Heath Younie said after 18 of the development squad had a run in the five-goal win over Port at Alberton Oval.

“Nearly half of them have played some league footy, so purely on games played we knew we were in front.

“But there were some other guys that, for the first time they have been exposed to it, seemed to handle it okay.”

The Crows were still playing last year when Younie started scouting country and amateur clubs, talking to coaches and other contacts.

And when Adelaide used its Facebook page and website to seek players last September, Younie and his development coaches were able to sift through nearly 300 registrations of interest.

This list was reduced to about 80 by November and then some training sessions through a “Recruit” style process left the Club with a core group which was trimmed to 27 last week.

“We’ve had a bit more time to put that squad together and as a result I’m confident with where we are at,” Younie said.

“What it probably does is that we can share the workloads across the local clubs, so we are not affecting one club week in, week out. Having the bigger squad helps but at this time the depth looks reasonably okay.”

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The squad includes a range of footballers with mixture of backgrounds, stories and reasons for wanting to be a part of the Crows squad.

There’s Justin Bollenhagen, who had a taste of AFL life with Fremantle with four games in two seasons but suddenly found himself out of the system after a change of senior coach and then needed a knee reconstruction.

Brock Castree, Dale Armstrong, Matt Stent, Charlie Molyneaux and Luke Carey had all played league football but drifted away for a variety of reasons.

Kynan Betts, a cousin of Crows star Eddie Betts, won the Mail Medal in the Port Lincoln Football League last season and was ready for another crack at league footy in Adelaide.

Yankalilla’s Matthew Wilson started training with the Crows last year but then needed a shoulder reconstruction and missed most of the season before returning to play in Waikerie’s Riverland premiership side.

Jordan Wilson-King, from Darwin and then North Adelaide, spent 2012 on Fremantle’s rookie list and there’s also Matthew Johncock, a cousin of Crows 200-gamer Graham Johncock.

See the full list here

Last year Adelaide used 17 different development players for a total of 77 games. Of this group, Sam Pfeiffer, Justin Smart, Myles Warmington and Addison Burns have returned for 2015.

Adelaide’s next SANFL trial is on Saturday, April 4, against West Adelaide.

It then starts the SANFL premiership season against North Adelaide at Prospect Oval on April 11.