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Roos aim to break Round One hoodoo against Crows

Football

Adelaide’s Don Pyke admits there’s no guarantees being an AFL head coach won’t turn him into a raving lunatic.

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He hopes not – but Pyke says he’ll find out in Saturday night’s season-opener against North Melbourne when he debuts as the Crows’ mentor.

“I would hope I’m going to be more measured and calm,” Pyke told reporters yesterday.

“But then you’re involved in an emotive game so its hard not to get emotional, that is the thing.

“And the players, I think, want to see a level of emotion because it’s important to show engagement in the game and what they’re doing.

“Does that mean I’m going to become a raving lunatic? Hopefully not… but I’d like to think I’ll be engaged in the game and be able to work with the players to achieve the best outcome.”

For North Melbourne, notorious under-performers in season openers, Jed Anderson will debut, Daniel Wells will be reborn and Todd Goldstein will star. But Brad Scott isn’t counting on any one player to make a difference.

We’re not stupid enough to say that we’re just going to keep rolling out the same round-one preparation that we have in previous years

Scott wouldn’t confirm it yesterday but ex-Hawthorn forward Anderson is expected to make his debut for the club when the Kangaroos attempt to break a run of six round-one losses against Adelaide at Etihad Stadium.

Wells and Goldstein figure to be important players, with the former finally over a chronic calf issue that kept him to two games last season and the latter well placed to exploit the AFL’s new interchange conditions.

Scott, however, says it would be their contribution to the side’s overall performance that will count.

“People who think that one player comes into your team and makes all the difference are delusional,” he said.

“Wellsy is going to play his part, it’s an important part, but it’s no more important than any of our other midfielders.

“We have to get away from this concept that one player is going to be the missing piece in the puzzle.

“Our strength is and has always been the strength of the collective.”

Scott did concede the scrapping of the substitute and the reduction of interchange rotations to 90 per game this season would play right into the hands of Goldstein, last year’s All Australian ruckman who is renowned for his elite endurance.

The Roos will hit the season in good shape from an injury perspective, with Shaun Higgins (knee) and Robbie Tarrant (back soreness) expected to be available to take on the Crows.

That’s good news for Scott, who is yet to guide North to a season-opening win in six years in charge.

He’s not sure exactly why that is, but he’s left no stone unturned as he attempts to rid himself of the unwanted record.

“It could be [a coincidence] but we’re not leaving anything to chance,” he said.

“We’re not stupid enough to say that we’re just going to keep rolling out the same round-one preparation that we have in previous years.

“We’ve played a lot more [pre-season] games than we have previously and we’ve tweaked our training structure pretty significantly to be more ready to go at the start of the year.

“We’re not sticking our heads in the sand and saying that it’s just a coincidence.”

Pyke said he would embrace the fever-pitch excitement associated with round one – and hoped his players would too.

“These guys have been training since late November, competing for spots,” he said.

“Some guys will earn spots and they’ll be excited about the opportunity it presents. Some guys that have been around for a while will be looking forward to the year.

“So I think embrace it. It’s not one to shy away from… it’s an opportunity for these guys to put out what they’re capable of doing, I will encourage them to embrace the night and get amongst it.”

Pyke was considering up to 28 players for the Etihad Stadium encounter, including Brad Crouch and Rory Atkins, who were suspended from the Crows’ final pre-season game as punishment for breaking a team curfew.

“As I said up front after that incident… I’m not going to hold anything against them at this point. Their names are on the board for selection,” he said.

-AAP

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