It’s been a long year off the track for Adelaide midfielder Matt Crouch. 

The 2017 Club Champion, who holds a career-average 28.3 disposals and 11 contested possessions per game, missed the entirety of the 2021 season due to injury. 

Hip surgery in the 2020 off-season led to an ongoing groin complaint. 

After returning to the State League for one match, Crouch underwent further surgery in November last year. 

But the 26-year-old All Australian, once described by Senior Coach Matthew Nicks as the “hardest worker we’ve got”, fought the injury battle with optimism. 

“Obviously last year was tough so to come back and have my body feeling really good again, feeling fit and ready to go is massive for me,” Crouch told AFC Media. 

“I hadn’t really experienced (an injury) in my career until last year so it was pretty foreign to me as well.

“(It was) obviously a bit of a challenge but having my teammates’ and the footy Club’s support is massive and then family and friends off-field always help as well.”

Crouch managed to find the silver lining in a setback-riddled year. 

“It was a tough year but I feel like I’ll grow from that and learn a lot from it,” Crouch said. 

“I love playing the game of footy and not playing for the whole year was tough, so I feel like I’ve got a greater appreciation for playing the game I love.”

Crouch has loved being back on the track with the main squad and hoped to prove himself once more as an integral cog in the Crows’ midfield machine. 

“It’s been awesome to get out there with the boys, they’ve been training super hard so it’s been great to get out there with them,” Crouch said. 

"I feel like I’ve got a greater appreciation for playing the game I love"

“It puts you in a much better mood, that’s for sure.”

Crouch couldn’t wait to link up with fellow midfielder Harry Schoenberg in 2022, who he said had been training the house down. 

“I thank Harry Schoenberg is going to take his game to the next level, he had a great season (in 2021) and he’s developing a lot,” he said. 

“Watching him today, he looks like he’s in for a big season and I think it will be good to run out next to him.

“Also guys like Tex (Taylor Walker) and Sloaney (Rory Sloane) - guys that I’ve played a lot of footy with - it’ll be great to get back out there with them and hopefully help us win a few games of footy.”