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Hart's content

Alex FitzGerald  December 22, 2017 1:48 PM

Ben Hart looks on at training

Ben Hart looks on at training

The whole playing and coaching group are on the same page, and we can’t wait to get stuck in.

After a six-year hiatus away from the Club, Ben Hart is back at West Lakes.

The 300-game defender and Adelaide Life Member began his coaching career with the Crows as an assistant from 2008 to 2011, before spending five seasons with Collingwood and then trying his hand in the media this year.

Hart knew his passion lay in an internal football position, and sees the homecoming as a chance for him to strengthen the Crows’ backline in his new role as assistant coach in charge of the defensive group.

“For me it was the lure of coaching, I missed it this year,” he said.

“I had a year out and did radio and TV, which was enjoyable, but I missed using that ability to pass on knowledge to the players, younger and older, to hopefully make them better.

“The opportunity came up, and I was really happy that they (the Crows) took me on board.”

Having been involved with football at an AFL level since making his playing debut in 1992, Hart has seen how the Crows have focused on a developing a well-rounded approach in recent years, both on and off the field.

“The amount of time the Club spends on the holistic view of footy has changed, which is really good,” he explained.

“It’s not just about kicks, marks and handballs. It’s about what you’re doing in that mental space, your preparation; everything like that.

“What they tip their energy into has gone to another level.”

Despite Jake Lever having departed during the recent trade period and the damaging Brodie Smith likely to spend most of the season rehabilitating the knee he injured in the Qualifying Final win over Greater Western Sydney, Hart believes the Crows defence can remain the force it has been in recent years.

“I think the overriding thing is that we’ll have a system that we play, and guys will get good enough to fit into that,” he said.

“I think, as far as personnel, you can never replicate, but I think we’ll be able to bring in guys who can bring their own strengths.

“One of my philosophies is to arm players with as many tools as you can, and then they have to see what works for them and when to use those weapons.”

While hesitant to single out any individuals, Hart nominated several players he sees as strong chances to step up in 2018.  Encouragingly, the collective senior inexperience highlights the fast-tracked development of the group in recent months.

“Without putting anyone on a pedestal; guys like Alex Keath and Kyle Cheney, who is underrated and very team-oriented,” he said.

“Off the half-back line; you might see a bit more of Richard Douglas, and guys coming back off a wing to spend some time there, like (Wayne) Milera.

“Tom Doedee is another player; we’ve got plenty there, I think.”

Hart is impressed with what he’s seen of the current Crows, noting the strength of the bond amongst the players.

“They’re a real close group; that’s one of the first things I notice when I started a month or so ago, along with their drive,” he said.

“Everyone's happy to share their thoughts and feelings, and there’s also that drive; they’re not satisfied.”

“They’ve got some unbelievable on-field weapons as well.”

Hart is prepared to do whatever he can in his role to help the Club to go one step further in 2018.

“With the team, you want everyone on the same page; and that’s asking what the next level is, how can we continue to get better?” he said.

“The whole playing and coaching group are on the same page, and we can’t wait to get stuck in.”