Senior Coach Matthew Nicks says a close race for this year’s Malcolm Blight Medal shows the strength of Adelaide’s young side. 

Defender-turned-onballer Rory Laird was named Club Champion for a second time on Saturday night, after a stellar season with the Crows. 

But breakout midfielder Ben Keays trailed by just four points, closely followed by rejuvenated wingman Paul Seedsman. 

Speaking to Triple M’s Roo & Ditts on Monday, Nicks said Keays’ and Seedsman’s efforts on the field were reflected in the final leaderboard. 

Following a mixed season in 2020 (nine games), Seedsman became a mainstay of Nicks’ side, averaging a career-best 26 touches and more than 600 metres gained per match.

“He deserves all the credit. He was incredible this year, away from footy as well. His knowledge of the game,” Nicks said. 

The senior coach admitted it had been a tough start for the duo, but applauded Seedsman’s commitment to the game. 

“We clashed a little last year, I’ll admit,” Nicks said. 

“Sometimes a new coach comes in who has new ideas around footy - it’s a tough challenge for these experienced players who’ve played five or more years of footy and have built up habits around how they want to play the game.

“It’s a credit to how he went into the off-season. He did so much work in that space and it’s a credit to him.

“I was really pleased and enjoyed working with him across the year.”

Keays, who was selected by the Crows in the 2019 AFL Rookie Draft after being delisted by Brisbane, emerged from the pack in 2021, playing every game and averaging 28.1 disposals. 

“We knew he’d get to the level he’s got to… he’s just a workhorse, he’s an elite professional (and) he’s driving the standards now with a number of other players on what’s required to be a professional athlete,” Nicks said. 

“He deserves the success that he had. In the end, it came right down to the wire - that last game - and both he and Lairdy performed very well.

“It made the count a really interesting one.”