2017: Minor Premiers after Home & Away season; Lost Grand Final to Richmond
Bryce Gibbs (from Carlton), Sam Gibson (from North Melbourne)
Jake Lever (to Melbourne), Charlie Cameron (to Brisbane), Scott Thompson (retirement)
Million Dollar Question
Can the Crows back up and have another successful season in 2018? After having arguably the clubs best season since it’s inception into the AFL in 1991, the Crows fell short on Grand Final day after being heavily fancied heading into the game. Having such a season but missing out on the ultimate prize can often take a huge mental toll on the playing list, and added to the concerns will be the losses of 3 of the clubs best players from a season ago (intercept king Jake Lever, live wire forward and prelim hero Charlie Cameron and Brodie Smith, who suffered a devastating ACL injury in the qualifying final against the Giants). It’s physically and mentally draining for a playing list to get to a grand final, let alone win one. Can the Crows do it again minus a few of their key personal?
This is still one of the most balanced teams in the league, averaging a league high 109 points per game last season while also boasting the leagues 4th best defense, surrendering 80.7 points a game. Adding another class A footballer in Gibbs to the midfield should help silence the doubters who criticise the Crows lack of midfield depth, while there should be plenty in line to help fill the void left in defense by Jake Lever (such as veteran Kyle Cheney, the highly rated Tom Doedee and the ever improving Jake Kelly). The Crows will be keen to prove that Grand Final day was just a bad performance at a really bad time. Though proving to the football world that playing at the MCG isn’t an issue could prove tricky, as they are only scheduled to play two games at the home of football in 2018 (against Hawthorn in round 13 and a Grand Final rematch v Richmond in round 16) prior to the finals.
Can they really replace their intercept king in Lever? Lever finished second in the league last season for intercept possessions (190), behind only Alex Rance (236) and Brodie Smith, who finished with the 4th most meters gained in the competition last season with 11, 364. Add to that the loss of Charlie Cameron, who was better than a goal a game last season and kicked 29 for the year (5th most at the club), and its hard to envision how this team could be as good in season 2018, let alone better. How will they replace such key losses? Only time will tell.
One to Watch
Now in his third season at the club, Milera will be looking to continue on from a strong 2017 campaign where he played 16 games and averaged 15 possessions per game. Milera is a silky smooth line breaker with a tendency to sneak forward and hit the scoreboard. Look for Milera to perhaps be deployed off the halfback line early this season to help replace some of the dash and dare lost in Brodie Smith’s absence.
Contract talks surrounding star midfielder Rory Sloane will dominate the news in South Australia this year, and at the conclusion of the season the hard nutt midfielder will be the next Crow to head back to Victoria and play for a big Melbourne team.