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Comeback Crow Crouch dumped after "alcohol" breach

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UPDATED: Crows midfield hope Brad Crouch’s long-awaited comeback has been put on ice after he and rising star Rory Atkins were dropped from the team for “failing to meet elite standards”.

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Crouch was due to make a highly-anticipated return from a debilitating foot injury against Gold Coast tomorrow night, after his entire 2015 season was wiped out.

The 22-year old was the AFL’s 2013 Rising Star runner-up but has only managed 11 games since – and none last year. Nonetheless he has been widely billed as Adelaide’s solution to the gaping midfield hole left by the departure of marquee onballer Patrick Dangerfield.

But in a statement this morning, the Crows said he and Atkins – who played eight games in a breakout season last year – would instead play in Adelaide’s state league team on Saturday.

“Both players have been excluded from AFL selection this week after failing to meet the elite standards required in regards to their preparation,” the club said.

The decision followed a recommendation from the team’s seven-man Leadership Group.

Crows coach Don Pyke wouldn’t comment this morning as to whether alcohol was involved, calling the lapse an “issue around preparation but it wasn’t a serious issue”.

However, former Port captain and now 9 news sports presenter Warren Tredrea – who has mentored Crows captain and Crouch’s housemate Taylor Walker – tweeted that the ban followed the players’ “breaking the alcohol policy set by the Leadership Group” on Clipsal weekend.

“It’s disappointing for both of them [but] we’ve got a trademark in place with our players’ expectations around a standard of behaviour and unfortunately they made an error of judgement last weekend,” Pyke told media before the side departed for its final NAB Challenge hit-out match at Metricon Stadium.

He said playing for the Crows’ SANFL side presented a “good opportunity to play and press their claim and learn a lesson”.

“They’re both disappointed, as you can imagine, but they now have an opportunity to redeem themselves by playing well and keeping themselves in the mix,” he said.

“They understand they let themselves down, they’ve let their teammates down … that’s not how we’re going to operate as a footy club.”

While not going into detail about the offence, Pyke noted it was “difficult for the players in this day and age”.

“At the moment, it’s an event – I wouldn’t want it to be a pattern,” he warned.

Crouch was in line to play his first senior game in a year, while Atkins has been in solid form through the pre-season.

They’ll line up alongside high-profile former Carlton recruit Troy Menzel, who didn’t make the cut for the Gold Coast clash, amid lingering questions about his workrate.

“He’s making progress,” said Pyke.

“We’re looking for him to go back and use some of the things he’s learned and developed, and build some confidence.”

 

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