Hentschel has earned his spurs: Craig - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hentschel has earned his spurs: Craig

By Daniel Brettig 12/03/2009 07:05:07 PM Comments (0)

Trent Hentschel need only keep his nose clean and his knees sound to play his first AFL premiership season match for more than two years when the Crows face Collingwood at the MCG in round one.

Adelaide coach Neil Craig is now convinced the gifted forward is ready to befuddle premiership opponents after he improved over successive weeks against Geelong, West Coast and a second-string Hawthorn, against whom he kicked four goals in Berri on Saturday.

Having insisted that Hentschel would be forced to earn his spot irrespective of sentiment, Craig was satisfied to be able to indicate that the 26-year-old had done so.

"Trent's got better each week," Craig said on Thursday.

"He would only need to continue his form (and) the reality is he would play for us.

"He was exceptional last week, even considering the opposition."

Adelaide's final warm-up fixture before the Magpies sets them up against the congested, stoppage-oriented style of Sydney at AAMI Stadium on Friday night, and Craig said he was seeking to settle down his team.

Also important are the performances of young players who are likely to need to deputise for Ben Rutten (knee), Jason Porplyzia (shoulder) and Nathan van Berlo (foot) in the season's early weeks as all recover from injury.

"We've got Jarrhan Jacky playing in the position maybe Jason Porplyzia would be in - it doesn't mean we can't play both of them but for Jarrhan to be playing really well it'd be great for him and could cement him a spot in the side," Craig said.

"Most of our younger guys putting their hands up for selection have been in really good form. Jacky, Jared Petrenko, James Sellar has taken another step forward, Rory Sloane, Andy Otten, Taylor Walker, so the heat's on, which is good internally."

The Crows versus Swans fixture will be preceded by Port Adelaide's mid-afternoon meeting with St Kilda, a match the Power will similarly use to assess their likely 22 for round one of the season.

"There still will be some opportunities, injuries will play some part I am sure, but apart from that probably two or three," said coach Mark Williams.

"Reputation has got little or nothing to do with it, the truth is it's on how they have been playing.

"There could be four or five playing for two or three spots, we are talking probably eight or 10 players that are going to miss out and it will be very difficult to justify exactly why they are out because their form is pretty good."

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