Crows cross their fingers on Hentschel - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Crows cross their fingers on Hentschel

13/08/2009 04:25:35 PM Comments (0)

Trent Hentschel's future has become tightly interwoven with Adelaide's prospects for AFL success in 2009 after the Crows recalled the luckless 26-year-old to play Hawthorn.

Coach Neil Craig is crossing fingers, toes and whatever else may be handy that Hentschel can emerge from his latest knee-related setback to be a key component of Adelaide's side for the rest of the year, particularly as there is virtually no hope of seeing All-Australian Nathan Bock (heel) again until deep into September.

When fit, Hentschel has plenty of value both as a gifted forward and a neat defender, something glimpsed early in the year when he played a steadying role at the back in the Crows' round-one win over Collingwood at the MCG.

Hentschel's reconstructed right knee subsequently fell prey to recurring bouts of swelling that required additional clean-out surgery, but after a solid month in the SANFL he was the strongest key-position option left for Craig, who must also do without Brett Burton (corked gluteal muscle) this week.

"Trent's probably in the best condition and is as sharp as I've seen him," Craig said on Thursday.

"He feels as good as he has felt since the initial injury. He's in good form and now is the appropriate time to find out (if his knee can handle it).

"Whilst he comes in and there's big expectation of what he needs to do - he needs to perform like any other player - hopefully he can play at the level because it's an important period for him.

"The next period will be great information about his knee.

"The last time he played was against St Kilda out here and whilst it was reasonably early in that game (when he was injured) the way he was going, that was the Trent Hentschel that we need to see.

"He was aggressive and he was pushing off his leg."

Out of contract at the end of the year, Hentschel must provide Craig with enough evidence he is worth retaining for 2010 and beyond.

"We need to find out now, so we can make a good decision in conjunction with Trent about where we go from a list management point of view," Craig said.

"That's why we keep our fingers crossed that he can play good footy and get through."

The Crows have also named Rory Sloane for his debut against the Hawks, throwing him onto the big stage much as they did with Myke Cook and Jared Petrenko in their season-opener.

Sloane is an enthusiastic and humorous character, rumoured to have started his AFL draft camp interview with the Hawks by saying: "Well you're a happy team at Hawthorn, aren't you?"

Craig said Sloane had plenty of aptitude to go with the wit.

"I've been impressed with Rory since pre-season, but particularly his last three to four weeks in the SANFL," Craig said.

"He has played really strong, hard and aggressive footy.

"It gets another young player on our list exposed to AFL footy and with the way it falls it'll be at the MCG, on a Friday night against last year's premiers.

"It's a pretty special game for him."

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