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No rush for first pick

Draftee Jake Lever
Draftee Jake Lever
We’ve explained a few things to Jake because he’s a very competitive kid and wants to play, but he’s just going to have to be a little bit patient.
Phil Walsh

Coach Phil Walsh says the Crows won’t rush highly-rated first-round draft pick Jake Lever.

Lever, 18, was recruited by Adelaide with pick No.14 in last year’s AFL National Draft.

The 194cm, 85kg, defender missed all of last season after rupturing his ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) training with the AIS-AFL Academy in December, 2013.

He’s completed his 12-month rehabilitation and has progressed to full training with the Crows, but won’t play in the Club’s NAB Challenge opener against North Melbourne in Port Lincoln on Sunday.

Walsh said the Crows had adopted a longer-term approach with the talented teenager.

“It’s been well-documented Jake is coming off an ACL injury,” Walsh said.

“We’ve explained a few things to Jake because he’s a very competitive kid and wants to play, but he’s just going to have to be a little bit patient, so we can tick all the boxes.

“We see him as a really important piece of where we’re going, so we’re not going to rush him.”

Adelaide has named seven new faces in its squad of 29 to play the Kangaroos.

Trade period recruits Kyle Cheney and Luke Lowden, defenders Harrison Wigg and Sam Siggins, and rookies Jake Kelly, Reilly O’Brien and Keenan Ramsey are all in line to make their Crows debut.

Emerging players Mitch Grigg, Sam Kerridge, Charlie Cameron, Cam Ellis-Yolmen and Jarryd Lyons will also get an opportunity to stake their claim on a spot in the team for Round One.

“We’ve got seven players, who could pull on the Crows jumper against AFL opposition for the first time. I’m pretty excited to see how they go,” Walsh said.

“I want to establish a winning culture at the Club but it’s the NAB Cup (Challenge), so we’re going to try a few things. We’re going to have a look at some younger players and try some things.

“We’re also going to try some things the guys haven’t done a lot, so there’ll be some mistakes but all good things come out of a level of frustration and a level of mistake, so we’ve got to embrace that.”

Walsh was also excited about the return of Nathan van Berlo, who will play his first game at any level since rupturing his Achilles tendon at training last January.

“Nathan’s had a terrific pre-season and I’m really looking forward to seeing him back out there,” he said.

“He’s a great leader of our Club. I couldn’t question how he’s gone about it this pre-season, so I’m excited for him.”

Walsh said the Club would manage the game time of its senior players over the pre-season.

“I don’t want to expose some of my older players to the full three games,” he said.

“That’s just a philosophy of mine.”