McLeod's role has changed: Crows coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

McLeod's role has changed: Crows coach

By Daniel Brettig 22/07/2009 03:12:22 PM Comments (0)

Adelaide coach Neil Craig has dismissed criticism of ageing champion Andrew McLeod, saying his true contribution to the Crows was being under-sold by shallow analysis.

In its wake, Craig was asked on Wednesday whether or not he would pick the dual Norm Smith medallist for Sunday's showdown against Port Adelaide.

Craig's Port Adelaide counterpart Mark Williams chuckled at the question, and the Crows coach explained that McLeod's value as one of the league's most heavily tagged players went beyond mere statistics.

"Will he be selected on the weekend? Absolutely," Craig said.

"You've got to understand that Andrew's playing a different role for us, as he should be at this stage of his career.

"It would be irresponsible of myself as a coach to keep putting Andrew in the midfield and saying `we want you to prop it up', or `you've got to kick five goals or we don't win'.

"He's playing a different role, he's playing it very well and I've been really pleased with how he's doing it."

Craig said McLeod's ability to bring other players into the game by drawing the opposition towards him was sorely underrated by outsiders.

The need for a tag is invariably underlined when an opposing side allows McLeod free rein, as Collingwood did in round one, for he is still more than capable of dominating a game if given the chance.

"He often gets a tag and it's nothing new for him, he's had that for most of his career, which means you can manipulate the opposition if they want to tag him wherever he goes," Craig said.

"People don't rate that as highly as they probably should, so he's a very important player for us."

McLeod, Tyson Edwards, Simon Goodwin and Brett Burton are all fighting to be retained on the Crows' list at year's end despite advancing years, but Craig said he would not be rushed to judgment on the quartet.

"We're really open-minded about that, we don't want to second guess players," he said.

"What we are really strong on is no decisions will be made on those four players until the end of the year.

"There's so much that can happen over the next six weeks and if we're good enough to make finals.

"Those guys, as you get older, they have other interests in what they want to do, so the hunger to play this game, and the resilience to be able to handle adversity, you've got to want to continue to do that otherwise your performance drops off very quickly.

"They can only answer that by their performances, not by what they say but what they do, and that's why we'll wait until the end of the year."

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