New Adelaide coach Phil Walsh bristles at his master tactician tag.
“I hate it,” he tells AAP.
“I reckon there’s a little bit of people wanting to build you up to shoot you down in our industry.
“Most of the really good things that I have done in my coaching has come from the effect of being in a really good coaching group, not some individual idea that I have espoused.
“I have got a view on the game. People have got a different view on the game. Now I get the opportunity to see if my view can stand up.”
Walsh has spent the past two decades living in the AFL shadows, a highly-rated assistant coach.
Now, the 54-year-old is the spotlight as head coach of the Crows, replacing the sacked Brenton Sanderson.
A self-described career coach, Walsh had long been content in the background.
But in October 2012, he was hit by a bus in Peru and thought he would die.
A year later, his close mate and fellow AFL coaching identity Dean Bailey was diagnosed with cancer – he passed away in March last year.
“Dean Bailey. Peru … I had some things happen in my life,” Walsh said.
“I said to myself if I seriously got an opportunity to interview for a senior job I wouldn’t refuse.
“I’m getting close to the end of the coaching journey as well.
“So it was just nice timing.”
The Crows have made the finals just once in the past five seasons, finishing 11th last year, 10th the year prior.
But Walsh reckons he’s landed a plum job compared to other fresh coaches who need to rebuild a playing list.
“There’s some really good ingredients here. But a couple may be missing,” Walsh said, identifying defensive deficiency, inexperience and a lack of height as worrisome.
The Crows last season ranked third in attack but 11th in defence – and their backline has lost retired stalwart Ben Rutten, with Hawthorn’s Kyle Cheney recruited to cover.
“Although (fullback Daniel) Talia and (half-back Brodie) Smith are All-Australian, our back six is probably just a little bit young,” Walsh said.
“I think our midfield and our forwards are really good, we have got really good talent in those areas. But we just need to develop that back six and expose them a bit.”
Thirty of Adelaide’s 45 players have played less than 50 games – whereas Hawthorn’s premiership team averaged about 130 games a player.
“We probably won’t be in that (bracket) until 2017 … but that doesn’t mean that things can’t happen,” he said.
Of nine new recruits, only Cheney and fellow ex-Hawk Luke Lowden have played an AFL game – and Lowden just one.
The fresh faces replaced a host of discards who never really made an imprint, including Shaun McKernan, Lewis Johnston, Jared Petrenko and Luke Thompson.
But while defence has been Walsh’s priority, the Crows are solid in an attack headlined by new captain Taylor Walker, who has replaced Nathan van Berlo, and livewire Eddie Betts.
And the midfield remains their strength with prime movers Patrick Dangerfield, Rory Sloane, Scott Thompson, Richard Douglas, Brad Crouch and ruckman Sam Jacobs.
The Crows will have to cope with speculation about whether Dangerfield and Sloane will reject free agency offers from rivals – but don’t expect Walsh to buy into that or other big-picture issues.
“I will probably want to keep my mouth shut just for a little bit, if that’s okay,” he said.
“I think I should just try and win a couple of games.”
Coach: Phil Walsh
Captain: Taylor Walker
Last five years: 11-14-3-11-10
Premierships: 2 (1997-98)
Key five: Patrick Dangerfield, Taylor Walker, Sam Jacobs, Daniel Talia, Rory Sloane.
One to watch: Taylor Walker. The 24-year-old spearhead was a surprise choice to replace Nathan van Berlo as Crows skipper, ahead of Patrick Dangerfield and Rory Sloane. Adelaide’s hopes for 2015 rest largely on how well he handles his dual responsibilities as captain and the primary focus of the Crows’ attack.
Ins: Charlie Cameron (Adelaide rookie), Kyle Cheney (Hawthorn), Harry Dear (Sandringham U18), Jake Lever (Calder U18), Luke Lowden (Hawthorn), Mitch McGovern (Claremont WAFL), Harrison Wigg (North Adelaide SANFL).
Outs: Angus Graham, (delisted), Lewis Johnston (delisted), Shaun McKernan (delisted), Jared Petrenko (delisted), Jason Porplyzia (retired), Ben Rutten (retired), Luke Thompson (delisted).
B: Ricky Henderson, Daniel Talia, Matthew Jaensch
HB: Nathan van Berlo, Kyle Cheney, David Mackay
C: Rory Sloane, Patrick Dangerfield, Brodie Smith
HF: Tom Lynch, Josh Jenkins, Brad Crouch
F: Eddie Betts, Taylor Walker, James Podsiadly
R: Sam Jacobs, Scott Thompson, Richard Douglas
I: Sam Kerridge, Luke Brown, Jarryd Lyons, Matthew Wright
Predicted finish: 9th
Betting (William Hill)
To win the flag: $26
To make the top eight: $1.90
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