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Sloane's courage nothing to sneeze at


Adelaide star Rory Sloane is back in full training after emergency appendix surgery and will return for his club’s preliminary final.

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But the most courageous player in the AFL is still a little afraid to sneeze.

Sloane missed the Crows’ 36-point qualifying final win over Greater Western Sydney after he complained of stomach soreness and was rushed to hospital to have his appendix removed.

That was nine days before the win over the Giants – a timeframe the Adelaide vice-captain tried and failed to overcome.

“I was trying to push it probably a little hard to make that first final but I fell a few days short in the end,” Sloane told reporters last night.

“I’ll start ramping it up from here on in.

“I did some pretty solid running in the last couple of days and some more solid training (on Tuesday), more football-like training, but I’ll join with the main squad from here on in.

“I’ll join in our main sessions which do have a bit of contact work, a bit of a game-like simulation I suppose, I’ll join in all of that and it will be fine.”

Sloane spoke to reporters at the AFL Players’ Association awards ceremony in Melbourne, where he took out the most courageous player award.

He and Taylor Walker, who was crowned the AFLPA’s best captain, left the Crows’ Gold Coast training camp a day early to attend the awards night.

Asked what the trickiest part of his recovery has been, a broad smile came over Sloane’s face.

“I’ve tried not to sneeze,” he said.

“I get a bit of hayfever at this time of the year, so every time I get a bit of a tingle I try to block it out.

“But everything has been fine, seriously, I’ve had a really good build-up.”

The Crows will face either Geelong or Sydney in a preliminary final at Adelaide Oval on Friday week.

Meanwhile, Richmond superstar Dustin Martin stormed to his first AFL Players’ Association most valuable player award.

The red-hot Brownlow Medal favourite has taken all before him this season, averaging 30 possessions in 23 games and kicking 32 goals.

Martin took the award, known as the Leigh Matthews Trophy, with 1333 votes ahead of Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield, who won it last year, on 776 votes and Greater Western Sydney’s Josh Kelly with 416.

Dustin Martin with his Most Valuable Player award, the Leigh Matthews Trophy, and its namesake. Photo: Luis Ascui / AAP

“To earn the respect of your peers is very humbling,” Martin said.

“I think all of the guys who got nominated are champions, so I’m very humbled.

“It’s a bit surreal … you’ve got to pinch yourself.

“I’ve just kept working hard on all areas of my game … I’ve said before you just try and improve each year that you’re in the competition.”

Sloane was fourth (267 votes) and Sydney’s Lance Franklin fifth (215).

Martin joined greats of the game such as Gary Ablett senior and junior, Tony Lockett, Jason Dunstall, Andrew McLeod, Robert Harvey and Chris Judd in winning the player-voted award.

Essendon rising star winner Andrew McGrath added another honour, the No.1 draft pick named the AFLPA’s best first-year player.

Western Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli was named the captain of the best 22 players under 22-years-old – a team voted on by fans. Crows Matt Crouch and Jake Lever, and Port Adelaide’s Ollie Wines, also made the team of young stars – but first-year Power player Sam Powell-Pepper missed the cut.

Also last night, delisted Crow Mitch Grigg won the SANFL’s Magarey Medal in his first season back in Norwood colours.


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