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AFLX: Crows squad named

Pyke eXcited Crows Senior Coach Don Pyke speaks about the upcoming AFLX fixture and how his side will approach the night.
It’s an opportunity for a lot of our younger guys, and guys who didn’t get to play a lot of AFL footy last year, to not only experience AFLX but to get a run under their belt and play for the footy Club
Don Pyke

Crows fans will get a glimpse of the future in Thursday night’s AFLX tournament at Hindmarsh Stadium.

Adelaide has named a squad of 18 for its two matches against Collingwood and West Coast. 

Father-son recruits Ben Jarman and Jackson Edwards will play together in Crows colours for the first time.

Promising defender Tom Doedee, second-year players Elliott Himmelberg, Matt Signorello, Ben Davis and Paul Hunter, and rookies Patrick Wilson and Lachie Murphy will make their maiden senior appearances for the Club. Harry Dear previously featured in the 2016 pre-season competition.

First-round draft pick Jordan Gallucci and utility Alex Keath, who both made promising AFL debuts in 2017, will get an opportunity to press their selection claims ahead of the Premiership Season.

Senior Coach Don Pyke said it would be exciting to see some new faces in action.

“We’re thinking it’s an opportunity for a lot of our younger guys, and guys who didn’t get to play a lot of AFL footy last year, to not only experience AFLX but to get a run under their belt and play for the footy Club,” Pyke said.

Big-bodied midfielder Cam Ellis-Yolmen will make his return from a knee reconstruction on Thursday night, while Curtly Hampton and Kyle Cheney have also been selected after injury-interrupted seasons.

Hampton played the opening nine games of 2017 before injuring his ankle. Ellis-Yolmen (knee) and Cheney (groins) didn’t add to their respective AFL game tallies last year.

“It was disappointing for Cam to miss the whole season after he got injured in JLT (Series Community game) one,” Pyke said.

“He’s jumping out of his skin and ready to play, and looking forward to it along with Kyle Cheney who didn’t get to play for the Club last year after a really good 2016.”

Defenders Jake Kelly and Andy Otten are the only two members of Adelaide’s Grand Final side to be picked for the AFLX tournament.

AFLX is a new format of the game designed to showcase football’s most thrilling features at a fast pace.

Played on a rectangular field, each match will consist of two, 10-minute halves, with a two-minute break at half-time.

Adelaide has selected a mix of small and tall players, and Pyke predicted the right balance would be important.

“It’s interesting. You’d suggest given the speed of the game that probably running-type players will be at a premium, but having played it a few times at practice the bigger guys come into their own,” he said.

“For me, it’s a little bit like the T20 (cricket) when it started. Everyone was predicting the death of the spin bowler and it’s proven to be quite the opposite.

“I think it’ll just evolve. It’s an exciting new concept. We’ll see but I think there’ll be a role for everyone.”

Otten, who has played 98 career games, is the most experienced member of the squad.

Of the selected squad, 10 players are yet to make their AFL debut – Edwards, Wilson, Himmelberg, Signorello, Hunter, Dear, Doedee, Davis, Murphy and Jarman.

Recruits Darcy Fogarty and Andrew McPherson, who both had injury-interrupted draft years, won’t feature in AFLX.

“We’ve had both of those guys on a fairly monitored program,” Pyke said.

“We’re really mindful with our first-year players as to the load that they carry.

“Both Andrew and Darcy have had good pre-seasons, but at this point it’s probably not best for their preparation into the main season to play AFLX.”

Pyke will coach Adelaide’s AFLX team with the support of assistant coaches Scott Camporeale, Josh Francou and Tate Kaesler.

Pyke said the tournament would complement the Club’s preparations for Round One.

“The reality for us is that we’re using it as more of a game-like simulation for our guys to practice the principles of how we want to play,” he said.

“There are a couple of little modifications that we’ll make, but other than that we’ll play our way.”

The Crows will take on Collingwood at 6:38pm (local) on Thursday night, before returning to play West Coast at 7:34pm. In the other pool (A), are Port Adelaide, Geelong and Fremantle.

The two pools of three teams will play in a round-robin format, with the winners of each pool playing off in a Grand Final.

Adelaide’s AFLX squad is:
7. Jordan Gallucci
8. Jake Kelly
17. Curtly Hampton
19. Jackson Edwards
22. Andy Otten
25. Kyle Cheney
28. Cam Ellis-Yolmen
31. Patrick Wilson
34. Elliott Himmelberg
35. Matthew Signorello
37. Paul Hunter
38. Harry Dear
39. Tom Doedee
40. Ben Davis
42. Alex Keath
43. Reilly O’Brien
44. Lachie Murphy
45. Ben Jarman

Get your AFLX tickets here