DELISTED Adelaide midfielder Jackson Hately says he was axed despite hitting career-best form and believes he can "match it with anyone" at AFL level after being starved of opportunity.
Hately, a first-round pick in 2018, started his career at Greater Western Sydney before requesting a trade back home to South Australia ahead of 2021.
The 22-year-old played 14 AFL games through his first two seasons at the Crows but managed only one – as the sub – in 2023.
Speaking on Trade Exchange on Continental Tyres AFL Trade Radio on Tuesday, Hately said his lack of opportunity came despite showing the strongest form of his career in the SANFL.
"I had one game as the sub where I played a quarter of footy. It's definitely the best I've been as a footballer this year, but the least amount of games I've played," he said.
"It's funny how it happens sometimes. I certainly didn't lose any confidence with what I can do at AFL level."
Hately made the SANFL Team of the Year, averaging 24.4 disposals at 85 per cent efficiency, along with 6.8 tackles and 4.5 clearances per game.
But opportunity in the Crows' engine room proved limited, with transformed captain Jordan Dawson moving into the midfield from half-back and revived veteran Matt Crouch claiming an onball position late in the season.
"This year, the opportunities weren't really there. We had a very healthy midfield group and a list that was playing quite well," Hately said.
"I feel extremely confident that I can still play good AFL footy. I feel like I have played good AFL footy in the past. This year the opportunities didn't quite come, but I'm still super confident."
Hately, a big-bodied midfielder standing at 191cm, believes he can be as damaging as any inside midfielder in the competition when played in his natural role.
"I've only played three or four AFL games as an inside mid, but I felt like I went pretty well in those games and feel like I can match it with anyone in there, so I feel like that's my best spot," he said.
Hately could be snapped up as a delisted free agent from November, while the Supplemental Selection Period (SSP) has proven a hit for players looking to revive their careers.
Oleg Markov became a premiership player at Collingwood on Saturday after finding his way to the club through that method ahead of the 2023 season.