Craig's Crows look to the future - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Craig's Crows look to the future

Steve Larkin 25/03/2011 05:49:02 PM Comments (0)

Adelaide coach Neil Craig prefers to consider it the start of an AFL era, not the end of one.

Craig's playing list heading into their home encounter with Hawthorn on Saturday night has some 1300 games less experience than last year.

Gone are club stalwarts of the ilk of Simon Goodwin, Andrew McLeod, Tyson Edwards and Brett Burton.

"It's like putting your hand in a bucket of water," Craig said on Friday.

"You pull the hand out and that hole that was there fills in pretty quickly.

"And that is not being disrespectful to those players, but someone else will emerge in your football club - always does, always will.

"The little question mark in our footy club at the moment is who, but they will emerge."

Adelaide's clash with Hawthorn also marks the 20th anniversary of the South Australian club's first AFL game, also against the Hawks.

But while many Adelaide folk reminisce, Craig is focused on the future.

"It's a great opportunity and a night for this group of players to start a new era for themselves to be proud of," he said.

Craig said he was more excited entering a season than ever before.

"This is my seventh year (as coach) and I'm just as excited and enthusiastic now, probably even more so, than when I first started - this group just reaches out to you and pulls you along with it," he said.

But the Crows mentor was wary of a finely tuned Hawthorn ruining Adelaide's anniversary.

"They have got that real drive back again, probably on their standards they have maybe in the last two years dropped away a little bit," Craig said of Hawthorn.

"... They have obviously got a healthy squad back together again."

Hawthorn coach Alistair Clarkson said on Friday his club's preseason had been near-perfect.

"We've had a tremendous preseason in terms of player availability," Clarkson said.

"We can't have put ourselves in a better position heading into round one and we're really excited about the season ahead."

The Hawks will be without captain Luke Hodge, still recovering from an achilles injury.

"Hodgey's not quite there yet in terms of his match fitness," Clarkson said.

"He has done the right thing by the footy club and his teammates by saying 'I'm not quite there, and there's 22 other guys who have had stronger performing preseasons than I have'."

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