Adelaide has seen an emergence of young leaders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighted by the Crows’ impressive return to pre-season training this month.

While senior leaders Rory Sloane, Tom Lynch and Taylor Walker continue to make important contributions, a younger group of Crows have been instrumental in driving the Club’s training standards according to forward Lachlan Gollant.

The 19-year-old singled out Lachlan Sholl, who won Saturday’s 2km time trial, and defender Andrew McPherson who was recognised for his outstanding professionalism in claiming the Dr Brian Sando OAM trophy at last year’s Club Champion.

“We all made the decision to stay and get together and train as a group and I think that’s exciting that we have younger leaders,” Gollant said.

“Guys like Sholly, Andy McPherson, they’re all pushing us and pushing themselves to get better and that’s just going to help us going forward.” 

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The 2km Time Trial

Young Crow Lachlan Sholl finished first in a gruelling 2km time trial on Saturday morning

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At the conclusion of Season 2020, a number of young Crows were left to decide whether to return home to Victoria, which was still under coronavirus restrictions, or remain in South Australia.

Ultimately, the majority stayed in Adelaide, training together in bigger groups during the off-season.

This decision has paid major dividends, evident throughout the first week of training in 2021.

“A lot of us made the decision to stay here in Adelaide and it helped us immensely, especially myself with my running ability, that got a whole lot better off the off-season,” Gollant said.

Just being around a bigger group of guys which meant the training standards were a lot higher and we were able to get a lot more out of ourselves.

- Lachlan Gollant

“It’s really exciting that we’ve had such a good off-season and we’ve started pre-season so well. Hopefully we can just keep building on that and take it into the actual season.”

The bond between Adelaide’s younger players has strengthened considerably across the last 12 months, even when forced into a Gold Coast hub mid-last year.

“Last year there were a lot of hard times, but you try and take the positives out of those and one of those would be the fact we were able to spend more time as a group together,” Gollant said.

“Especially us younger guys, being able to get to know each other better than you would in a normal year because you’re just spending more time together.

Young Crows Will Hamill, Lachlan Gollant, Josh Worrell, Ronin O'Connor and Ayce Taylor during the Christmas break. Picture: ronin_oconnor / Instagram

“For example, up in the hub, we spent two weeks just in and around each other, all day, every day and it’s been very useful. 

“Guys like myself, Will Hamill, Sholly, Ronin (O’Connor), we’ve all gotten to know each other a lot better and form stronger bonds than we would have been able to in a normal year, which can only help. 

“Off the field we’ll be able to take those and grow as players and guys, and it’s really exciting."