Crows coach backs Maric to become elite - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Crows coach backs Maric to become elite

By Steve Larkin 04/06/2010 01:37:27 PM Comments (0)

Adelaide coach Neil Craig has backed his emerging ruckman Ivan Maric to combat giant Fremantle tap-man Aaron Sandilands in Saturday's AAMI Stadium AFL encounter.

Maric, 24, has been one of few positives in a bleak season for the Crows, struggling in 15th position on the ladder with just two wins.

The ruckman of Croatian descent has grown in influence yet faces his biggest test yet in his teammate Tyson Edwards' farewell match on Saturday - The 211cm tall Sandilands.

"He is making some real strides," Craig said of Maric.

"He's doing some outstanding work, with a good workrate, he's starting to be more dominant around the field, particularly in defence.

"He will become one of the elite big men in the competition.

"Off the field, he's really developing some leadership and I think that adds to his game - he's come a long way and will continue to do so."

Craig said Maric's ability to curtail Sandilands' impact would be crucial against the second-placed Dockers.

But the Crows coach was also wary of Fremantle's other big gun, captain Matthew Pavlich.

The Adelaide-born Pavlich heads the league's goalkickers, kicking two or more goals in every match this season.

Add to that Pavlich's ability to swing through the midfield - he's averaging 20 disposals a game - and little wonder Craig has earmarked not one, but a group of players, to tackle the key Docker.

"If he plays forward, you have got (Ben) Rutten who has stood him before and played some good football on him," Craig said.

"Possibly Scott Stevens, who has played on him before.

"Phil Davis, it would be a great opportunity for him to stand an elite key forward in the AFL having played only seven or eight games for us.

"That is the flexibility we have if he plays forward, and he'll play a lot of his football forward I would think.

"But he also does go in the midfield but we will have a contingency available for that."

Edwards, who will retire after the match, and defender Graham Johncock have been recalled for the Crows with centre-half back Nathan Bock sidelined by a groin injury and rookie Chris Schmidt dropped.

Fremantle has recalled ball magnet Michael Barlow from a hamstring strain and brought in Steven Dodd to replace the injured Paul Hasleby (back) and youngster Clancee Pearce, who has been omitted.

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