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Crows stare down jitters to embrace the hype

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Adelaide players will again adopt the so-called Crows stare during the national anthem before the AFL grand final.

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And they couldn’t give two hoots what you think about it.

The Crows travel to Melbourne today, ahead of Saturday’s grand final against Richmond, adamant they’re not disrespecting the anthem.

Adelaide’s players have stood in a trance-like state, staring at their opponents, during the anthem before their two previous finals this season.

The unusual stance has prompted much debate from outside the club.

But Adelaide’s chief executive Andrew Fagan puts the talking point down to one thing: an insatiable “thirst for content when it comes to the AFL”.

Fagan said the Crows stare was simply a tool for his players to deal with the national anthem.

“We want to prepare for the game, to be ready and focused,” Fagan said.

“And we have worked out something that has done that for us for the last couple of weeks.

“It’s something unusual to stand there for the national anthem, it’s not a normal preparation.

“And so you have got come up with something that you think will have you best prepared and the guys have got that at the moment.

“What others say about it is up to them.”

The Crows travel to Melbourne on a mid-afternoon flight confident in their lead-in to the premiership decider.

“Although we don’t have grand final experience in the playing group, we have got it amongst our coaches,” Fagan said.

“And that has been one of the messages to the guys… embrace the week.

“It’s not a normal week… but equally you have got to try and stick to your normal structures and personal preparation.

“And I am really confident we have got the balance right and we will be ready to go on the weekend.”

Richmond assistant coach Justin Leppitsch today backed their ‘mosquito fleet’ to make the difference in the decider,  saying the Crows defenders will feel the heat.

Leppitsch’s main responsibility is the Tigers’ attack and the relentless pressure of the Richmond’s small forwards has been a crucial feature of their success.

“If we don’t bring our pressure and speed this week, we know what the game is going to do – I think the whole footy world knows that,” he said.

“So we have to bring that.

“We feel it’s a part of our strength … Daniel Rioli doesn’t have to try to tackle, Dan Butler doesn’t have to try to tackle, it’s just what they naturally do.

“It’s easy to plan for, but it’s hard once you’re out there – when the opposition backs pick up the ball, no doubt they’d be noticing a bit of extra pressure this week than what they’ve had in the last couple of games.”

Leppitsch returned to Richmond as an assistant after three unsuccessful seasons coaching Brisbane.

He admits to surprise that the Tigers have done so well after missing the top eight last year.

“We knew last year didn’t go as well as we thought … but we probably didn’t expect to make it to grand final day,” he said.

Richmond, like Adelaide, have no players with grand final experience.

But they have plenty of experience at the business end of the season among their coaching staff.

Leppitsch was a crucial member of the Brisbane three-peat premiership teams from 2001-03 and he said they have spoken this week about what to expect.

“Most of it’s about the distractions and the things on the outside that go on, that are different,” he said.

“In fact, the week itself is the same for the players, it’s just the exterior.”

Leppitsch said it’s a good idea if the players turn off their social media for the week.

“There are more distractions than normal (and) you find about 50 new mates in grand final week who want a ticket,” he said.

“All those things are part and parcel.”

Much has been made of Damien Hardwick’s more relaxed demeanour this season, but Leppitsch said there have been lots of changes at the club.

“I would have thought there’s been as much change in Trent (Cotchin) and Dustin (Martin) and Jack (Riewoldt) as there has Dimma – probably equally,” he said.

“They’ve all matured and all changed, my wife said that to me too – maybe it is a senior coaching thing that sends you crazy.

“The group is a lot more … I’m not saying accountable, but it definitely takes responsibility and it makes things so much easier when a group of 50 people are pushing together, as opposed to just a handful.

“That’s the one big noticeable thing, coming back to Richmond.”

-AAP

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