Has Kurt Tippett doomed the Crows?
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Has Kurt Tippett doomed the Crows?
We'll understand the ramifications of Tippett's exit (and the subsequent loss of draft picks) more clearly with the hindsight of a few years, but for now we think Adelaide will fare reasonably well without him in 2013.
Consider that in 2012 the Crows went 17-5 in the home-and-away season despite a fairly patchy year from Tippett, who kicked 34 goals and missed six games. Take out his five-goal haul against the Saints in round 12, and four-goal performances against the Suns and Giants, and Tippett's output looks very lean – 21 goals in 15 games. That's the kind of production that can be covered by the likes of Josh Jenkins, Lewis Johnston or Shaun McKernan, while leaving Taylor Walker to do the bulk of the scoring.
List-wise, the Crows are still in a terrific position to challenge for the top four. Their midfield is still led by Scott Thompson, Patrick Dangerfield and Rory Sloane, and an All Australian-worthy ruckman in Sam Jacobs. Add in Walker, who is one hell of a key forward, and the Crows have enough talent on the park to put a scare through most sides.
What will be interesting is whether the Tippett scandal has any residual effect on club morale. A couple of surprise early losses – the Crows could conceivably start the season 0-2 with losses to Essendon and Brisbane – and heads may drop. The real question is whether the Crows are strong enough mentally to push through a Tippett hangover. Brenton Sanderson is a tough nut, so we think he'll hold the Crows in good stead if they get the wobbles.
Will Taylor Walker win the Coleman Medal?
He's got to be the favourite. Having witnessed Tex up close last season, we can confirm – the kid is an out-and-out gun. The word out of Adelaide is Walker has added even more bulk to his impressive frame over the off-season and is training as well as he ever has. If you're not a Crows fan, this should scare you.
Walker kicked 63 goals in 2012 and would have won the Coleman had the MRP not taken issue with his tackling technique. With Tippett out of the side Walker is going to be the undisputed No.1 spearhead. Some believe he will struggle to cope with a double- and triple-team, but we think that's baloney. Walker got enough experience against the best defenders in 2012 and Adelaide still have ample forward options to spread around and ensure that Tex occasionally gets off the leash. Besides, the best forwards in the competition cope with double-teams week in, week out. Walker IS one of the best forwards in the competition; he's going to be fine.
What's most impressive about Tex – apart from his tank – is his ability to kick the big goals in the big moments. He iced Fremantle with a bag in the semi-finals and booted a monster on the half-time siren in the preliminary final against Hawthorn. The spotlight rests easy on his shoulders, and you can be damn sure he'll be getting more of it in 2013. Put him down for 80+ goals, easily.
Will there be more walkouts from West Lakes?
For their fans' sake, we hope Tippett is the last of the big names to ditch Adelaide. Over the past few years, the Crows have seen Tippett, Nathan Bock, Jack Gunston, Phil Davis, Chris Knights, and Ivan Maric (who, admittedly, was out of favour) walk from the club.
Happily, it appears most of Adelaide's big names are locked down beyond 2013. The biggest of the potential free agents is Scott Thompson, who is believed to be coming out of contract this year. Given the noise he made about Tippett leaving we think it's highly unlikely the gun midfielder will consider a move away from the Crows. Bernie Vince, another son of South Australia, is also in an off-contract year but will almost certainly re-sign.
With any luck, Tippett's departure will galvanise the players and give them added reason to stick together and prove their former teammate a fool. It won't have escaped Brenton Sanderson's attention that the best form of revenge is on-field success.
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of BigPond Sport.
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