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Sloane no lone ranger in Adelaide midfield

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 30: (L-R) Matt Crouch, Eddie Betts and Rory Laird of the Crows arrive during the 2017 Virgin Australia AFL All Australian Awards at the Palais Theatre on August 30, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Matt Crouch (l) with fellow All Australians Eddie Betts and Rory Laird

NEW ALL Australian Matt Crouch is now the standard-bearer for an Adelaide midfield that has proved to be one of the AFL's best after being derided by many as second-rate before the season started.

Only Hawthorn primemover Tom Mitchell won more of the ball in 2017 than Crouch's 33 disposals per game.

His season-low possessions was 27 and he ended the home and away season with 45 against West Coast.

Crouch, 22, was also prominent in contested possessions (ninth in the AFL) and clearances (14th) as the quietly spoken star's profile finally and deservedly soared.

"There's been a lot of boys who've stood up, and it's been an even contribution through there," he said of the Crows' midfield on Wednesday night.

"[Rory Sloane] had a great year, we've had Richard Douglas play well again and there's been a few boys like Hughy Greenwood and Charlie Cameron who came through there who've also played well, so it's been a really solid effort in there.

"I've been pretty consistent – that's probably the main thing throughout the year – so I feel like I'm improving every week."

Crouch and 23-year-old sibling Brad broke the season record for combined disposals between two brothers this year. They needed 60 against the Eagles in round 23 to surpass Kane and Chad Cornes' mark of 1174 from 2007 – and went on to have 87, with Brad collecting 42 of them.

"It feels like Brad's been pretty consistent as well, so he's got his body right (after struggling with injury in the past) and he's been going OK," Crouch said in his understated way.

Adelaide won the minor premiership, but enters the Giants clash with losses in its past two games against Sydney then West Coast.

Those results have not shaken Crouch's belief his side can end its 19-year premiership drought, and he is excited to face Greater Western Sydney's youth-laden on-ball brigade next week.

"That game in Sydney we should have probably won – we had enough scoring shots – but obviously on the weekend it was a bit disappointing against West Coast," Crouch said.

"They played pretty well over there and ended up getting into finals.

"I'm still confident; that doesn't really dent my confidence at all. I think we've matured as a group and I reckon we're ready to go."

Crouch is backing vice-captain Rory Sloane to recover from appendicitis in time to be alongside him in the midfield on Thursday week.

Sloane faces a race against time to be ready for the Crows' qualifying final blockbuster with Greater Western Sydney after having his appendix removed on Tuesday.

Crouch, who became an All Australian for the first time on Wednesday night, said he was still somewhat in the dark about Sloane's status.

"He came out of hospital not long ago, so we'll see in the next few days," Crouch said.

"But if there's anyone who's going to play (it is Sloane) – he's a pretty tough player."