‘Tex’ ready to turn it on, but tough test for Sloane
CROWS coach Don Pyke is backing his captain Taylor Walker to respond to the critics in Friday's night's AFL epic against Sydney at the SCG.
Pyke says the key forward has "turned the corner" to be best prepared to lead the Crows after a difficult start off a stalled pre-season with a plantar fascia flare-up of his left foot.
But Crows vice-captain Rory Sloane, who limped out of the grand final rematch with Richmond at the end of last month, needs to prove to Pyke at training in Sydney on Thursday that he is physically up to a hot contest with the Swans midfield despite his eagerness to play.
Of Walker, Pyke said: "He has turned the corner a little bit. It is fair to say he came back after not much pre-season and played really well in the first game against Richmond - and as is normal with guys who have not done a lot of pre-season. And maybe his load and his build-up was a bit quicker than his body was ready to cope with.
"He has turned the corner a bit this week; trained well the other day. So we are really confident with 'Tex' this week."
Of Sloane, Pyke noted: "He is still a bit sore. He is one we have to look at as to what is best for Rory - and best for the team - to give him a chance to perform and play at the level we know he is capable of. Clearly in the last couple of weeks, as much as he has been really willing, his body is not in the space it needs to be to perform the way we know Rory Sloane plays."
Under fire for playing "unfit players", Pyke conceded: "We have some guys who we played who were less than 100 per cent ... but they are progressing. It is a matter of how quickly they progress and what level they are at to be able to perform.
"Being able to play is one thing. Perform is another thing."
Adelaide already has ruled out specialist forward Eddie Betts (hamstring) and experienced midfielder David Mackay (concussion). First-year forward Lachlan Murphy has not proven he is ready to resume from a hamstring complaint.
Adelaide left for Sydney with Riley Knight, Jordan Gallucci and Curtly Hampton as the candidates for selection on Thursday night. Andy Otten and untried rookie Myles Poholke also made the flight to Sydney.
Pyke left open whether Adelaide will use their contentious "Crows stare" while standing for the national anthem at the start of the match that opens the Anzac Round.