'2020 was not much good': Crows aiming to bounce back hard

AFTER a disappointing 2020 NAB AFLW season, crashing from reigning premiers to winning just two of six games, Adelaide has its eye on improving all over the park.

The Crows had been heavily hit by injury before the season began, with Erin Phillips managing just two games, Courtney Cramey and Deni Varnhagen playing one each and Chelsea Randall, Chloe Scheer and Hannah Button missing the season.

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"We had our challenges, but we felt we probably didn't maximise our potential with the players we had available," coach Matthew Clarke told womens.afl.

"Ultimately, we were pretty disappointed out of the season. Over the off-season, a lot of our players worked really hard and came back in good condition, so that obviously is a bonus for us heading into this period. 2020 – like most things in 2020 – was not much good.

"We reviewed last season and identified there were a number of things we didn't execute as well as we would have liked.

"It's not revolutionary, our contest numbers were down, we didn't move the ball with the speed or efficiency that we had the previous year and our defence was a bit shaky, so that's the whole gamut.

"In terms of specifics, we'll just look to tighten up those areas a bit. It's not radical change, it's just doing things a little bit better."

Adelaide's Deni Varnhagen in action against Carlton during the 2019 NAB AFLW Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

Adelaide has now returned to training after a brief period of COVID-19 lockdown, which saw South Australian citizens unable to leave the house for exercise.

Initially a six-day lockdown that was relaxed somewhat after three days, the Crows' status as an elite sporting team saw them return to training ahead of community sport in the state.

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"It's pretty challenging, a bit frustrating to get right to the start of pre-season and then have a state-wide lockdown pretty much coincide with kick-off," Clarke said, interviewed before the restrictions were eased.

"We're OK, we'll just make some modifications and everyone's hopeful it's a relatively short period whereby we're not able to train, and then we'll just have to make some adjustments to catch up that time we've missed." 

Adelaide superstar Erin Phillips is aiming to be fully fit for the 2021 NAB AFLW season. Picture: AFL Photos

The squad is in a much healthier state than this time last year, with border issues proving to be the main sticking point at the minute.

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"It wouldn't be hard (to be healthier) so yes. We've got a couple who are coming back from injuries, but they're all expected to be back after Christmas at the worst," he said.

"We've still got Ailish (Considine) stuck in Ireland for a little longer. Danielle Ponter has a funeral in Darwin coming up, so she's staying there a little while.

"Chloe Scheer played in the local league, not SANFLW (in her comeback from an ACL), and her team made it through to the Grand Final and she was pretty significant in that.

"She's had a minor setback since those games, which is the risk-reward, but she's projected to be available just before or after Christmas."

Adelaide's star defender Chelsea Randall against the Western Bulldogs in 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

Clarke is looking forward to having the services of his co-captains in a fully fit Erin Phillips, nearly two years after tearing her ACL in the 2019 Grand Final, and Randall on the comeback trail.

"Erin got back for a couple of games last season, but by her own admission, it was just tough.

"Chelsea will go through the same experience this year, it's not easy to sit out footy with a significant injury and then just come back and perform at your normal level. Both of them have that challenge in front of them.

"As much as we're rapt to have them back, we need to be mindful and understand where they are in their rehab and our expectations on them. But we'd rather have them than not."