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Stevens the key as Crows look to future

By Daniel Brettig 09/05/2009 10:47:21 AM Comments (0)

Adelaide are a club attempting to be an AFL force in the present while also preparing diligently for the future.

And that future is widely expected to be a bright one given the profile of the Crows' list and several young talents likely to bloom into elite performers over the next two or three years.

But maintaining competitive status in the present is proving rather more problematic for Adelaide, and they will soon slip down to the lower reaches of the ladder without greater efforts from the middle of the list.

Chief among many underperformers against Port Adelaide last week was Scott Stevens, a once-maligned utility who has in recent times become crucial.

Arguably the most versatile man in the team, 27-year-old Stevens can occupy key positions at either end of the ground while also stretching the opposition with his running ability and a marksman's disposal by foot.

Stevens' concussion against Fremantle three weeks ago appears to have had a lingering effect on his form, and he was virtually invisible against Port.

Nathan Bock's withdrawal (hamstring) from the match against the Western Bulldogs puts even greater focus on Stevens' ability to make an impact at either end.

"I think he is (okay), he tells me he is so you can only take him on face value and medically he's been judged," Crows coach Neil Craig said of Stevens' physical state.

"The thing with Scott is he had a hamstring before so his continuity of being able to train has been limited.

"But once you're selected you put yourself up to be judged.

"So he was really disappointed with his performance on the weekend so hopefully he'll get an opportunity this week to improve."

In pre-season Craig had said Stevens was one of the most valued men at the club, particularly so after he was one of only a handful of players to stand up in last year's elimination final - he kicked six goals in the loss to Collingwood.

So there is little doubt Adelaide need him to lift against the Western Bulldogs, who like the Crows are mired in midtable at 3-3.

The Bulldogs have not beaten the Crows in Adelaide since 2001, but they will fancy their chances against a team that is yet to play four quarters in 2009.

Craig grasped a fraction of solace from a decent final term against Port - albeit after the game was gone - and wanted to see some of those ball movement repeated on Mothers Day.

"I'd like to think (after the game) we've played with a higher level of intensity for a greater part of the game, and I'd like to sit here and say we've got some quicker ball movement in what we're trying to do," Craig said.

"Towards the end of the game last week, you could say all bets were off and that sort of thing, but when we did get some quicker ball movement we started to look better.

"That's what we've got to do, that's what we're working on."

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