Indigenous AFL stars prepare for Crows - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Indigenous AFL stars prepare for Crows

By Sam Lienert 02/02/2009 06:20:15 PM Comments (0)

Indigenous All-Stars coach Chris Johnson hopes to tease some inside knowledge out of Adelaide superstar Andrew McLeod ahead of Saturday night's AFL clash with the Crows.

But it is the squad's youngsters he expects to really gain from mixing with McLeod and other Aboriginal stars as they prepare for the biennial match in Darwin.

While the 33-man squad includes other premiership players, such as Port Adelaide midfielder Shaun Burgoyne and veteran West Coast defender David Wirrpanda, it is mostly comprised of youth.

Eight players are yet to make their AFL debuts, with several others boasting only a handful of senior games.

While that scenario was due more to who was fit and available than the selectors' intentions, former Brisbane triple-premiership player and current development coach Johnson said it created the chance to fast-track those players' AFL education.

"I'd love to get out of the game that we can showcase a couple of these young kids and get them that extra step closer to playing senior football with their clubs back in the AFL," Johnson said on Monday.

"I guess that's the first time they're going to be playing at that sort of high intensity."

His own experience playing with the indigenous side and representing Australia taught him how much could be gained.

"It was just fantastic to be able to play with guys that you normally play against and you watch on TV so much," he said.

"... The likes of Andrew McLeod and guys at other clubs that have been at the top of their game for a long time, just to see how they go about their preparation into a game, what it takes and how professional they really are."

McLeod is one of five Crows in the squad and Johnson said while he would not pressure them, he aimed to eke out some secrets.

"I'll do it discreetly as much as possible, so we'll see how we go," Johnson said.

"I've done a little bit of homework on what they've been doing over the pre-season so we've got a fair idea on how they're going to play."

As for his own squad, skill and speed will be the key, with a dearth of key position players.

"Our strength is really going to be at ground level, so pray for rain ... we're really going to have to run the ball as much as we can."

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