Two-time Crows Club Champion Scott Thompson will enter his 16th AFL season in better physical shape than he's been in for several years.
Thompson, who turns 33 next month, was plagued by a hamstring injury last summer, and started the season in the SANFL as a result. In contrast, the only training the All Australian midfielder has missed this pre-season has been through management.
After missing the 2015 NAB Challenge, Thompson is expecting to line up in the opening week of the pre-season competition when Adelaide takes on West Coast at Unley Oval on Sunday.
“There was a lot made about a little niggling hamstring early last year, but that’s all behind me,” Thompson said on Wednesday.
“I got through the season well last year and have enjoyed another good summer. I’m feeling good. The team is feeling good and I’m looking forward to another year.”
The Crows will travel to Mount Barker in Western Australia in the second round of the NAB Challenge, and have an 11-day break before their final pre-season game on the Gold Coast.
It’s then another 13 days until Adelaide kicks off its AFL Premiership Season campaign against North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on March 26. Thompson said the significant gaps between games would be factored into the management and preparation of players for Round One.
“I’ll probably play a little bit more (NAB Challenge) than I have in previous years given the rest time in between (games),” Thompson said.
“There will be certain players who will be managed throughout the NAB Challenge.
”There will be guys that have had good summers on the track who will find themselves getting an opportunity come Sunday against West Coast … and those guys deserve that opportunity.
“If they play well, hopefully they’ll hold their spot in the side.”
With 285 AFL games under his belt the 300-game milestone is almost within reach for Thompson.
The former Demon, who joined the Crows ahead of the 2005 season, said the 15 games required to reach the mark was still a significant hurdle.
"It (the milestone) is not something you think about much at all, and there's so much other stuff that you focus on going into a game of footy that milestones like that get pushed to the back of your mind," he said.
"You say ‘only’ 15 games, but 15 games in a footy season's quite a fair way off – there's a lot of things that need to happen and fall into place on a personal point of view to reach that.
"It'd be wonderful to achieve that, but 15 games is still a fair way off."
Thompson is looking forward to seeing a number of his young teammates in action during the pre-season competition, including impressive wingman Wayne Milera Junior.
Milera was the Club's first pick (No.11) at the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, taken from Central District in the SANFL.
“Wayne Milera has been outstanding on the track, so I’m hoping he plays on Sunday because he really deserves the opportunity,” Thompson said.
“He excites me watching him train. He's done a lot of work through the midfield but he can definitely go forward he's got some tricks – hopefully you guys will see a bit of that over the coming weeks."
Second-year forward Mitch McGovern, who kicked four goals in Adelaide’s match simulation on Friday, is also looking for his first taste of AFL football.
“The key for Mitch is getting his body sound,” Thompson said.
“He’s had some niggles over the past couple of years where he hasn’t been able to get himself out on the park consistently. For him it’s about understanding his body and being able to get the work in needed to be able to perform on match day.”