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Eddie opens arms to another Crow

Katrina Gill  February 10, 2016 1:50 PM

AFL 2016 Portraits - Adelaide Crows

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 09: Eddie Betts of the Crows poses for a portrait during the Adelaide Crows team photo day at AAMI Stadium in Adelaide, Australia on February 09, 2016. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

He texted me after he got traded (to Adelaide) and asked if I wanted to mentor him again.

Already a mentor to a handful of players, Eddie Betts has taken another young Crow under his wing.

Betts, 29, has renewed his relationship with former Carlton teammate Troy Menzel, who was traded home to Adelaide in October last year.

Betts, who joined the Crows as a Free Agent ahead of the 2014 season, mentored Menzel when the goalkicking duo played together at Carlton in 2013.

“Troy has been a fantastic pick-up for us,” Betts told FIVEaa.

“I knew Troy from Carlton and I was actually his mentor when he first got to the club.

“He texted me after he got traded (to Adelaide) and asked if I wanted to mentor him again.

“I said, ‘Sure, yeah. It’s good to have you onboard!’”

Menzel played 41 games in three seasons at Carlton, kicking 47 goals and earning a Rising Star nod.

The former first-round draft pick was eased into training in December after hip surgery, but quickly progressed to full duties and is now nearing the end of his most complete pre-season to-date.

Like a host of emerging Crows, the skilful 21-year-old will be out to push his case for Round One selection in the NAB Challenge, which kicks off next week.

Betts said it would be exciting if Menzel could force his way into Adelaide’s talent-laden forward line.

“Knowing that we’ve got big forwards down there in ‘Tex’ (Walker) and ‘JJ’ (Josh Jenkins), the midfielders have confidence to kick the ball forward,” Betts said.

“If they can create a contest for us little guys … now that we’ve got Troy coming into play as well, it’s going to be a dangerous forward line.”

Another beneficiary of a full pre-season has been livewire Charlie Cameron.

Elevated from the Rookie List, Cameron has played 29 games in two seasons with the Crows.

The fierce-tackling forward has bulked up while also improving his fitness base, which could see him play a slightly different role this year.

“Charlie has been good. He’s been working a bit up in the midfield on a wing,” Betts said.

“‘Pykey’ (Coach Don Pyke) wants the boys to be able to play in a variety of positions. Charlie’s put on some size … his arms are looking really big.

“He’s training and running really well and he’s come out of his shell. He’s starting to talk a bit more.”

Betts has also spent some time with the midfield group this pre-season, but expects to play predominantly up forward again.

“I’d rather stay forward, but if they (the coaches) want me to go in there for a burst to help the team I’m happy with that,” he said.

“I’ve got to come up with some strategies for if I’m stuck in the forward line and not getting a touch. It all comes down to work rate.

“I’ve got to work hard and, hopefully, we can kick a few more goals this year.”

Seeing players like Cameron and draftee Wayne Milera Junior “flying” on the training track this summer is reminding Betts of his age.

The fan favourite, who earned All Australian selection after a career-best 2015, has hardly missed a session, but his duties have been modified at times as he prepares for his 12th AFL season.

“It’s been a good pre-season, but it’s been tough. As you get older, you can feel it … doing all this running is starting to catch up with me, but the Club has been good in managing me,” he said.

“’Birdman’ (High Performance Manager Brett Burton) having come out of the game five or six years ago, he knows what it’s like when you’re getting older and the pre-seasons are getting harder.

“I’m trying to keep up with these young kids, like Charlie Cameron and ‘Junior’ (Milera) who are just flying on the track. With Thommo, ‘VB’ and me, Birdman is managing our loads a bit more because it’s a lot on these old legs, but I’m feeling good and fit.”

Adelaide’s first NAB Challenge game is against West Coast at Unley Oval on Sunday, February 21. Tickets and further information are available here