Rory Laird celebrates a goal during the match between Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney at Adelaide Oval in round 18, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Ins and outs


Chris Burgess (trade, Gold Coast), Daniel Curtin (No.8 draft pick), Charlie Edwards (No.21 draft pick), Karl Gallagher (Category B rookie), Oscar Ryan (No.27 draft pick)


Tyler Brown (delisted), Tom Doedee (free agent, Brisbane), Jackson Hately (delisted), Shane McAdam (trade, Melbourne), Fischer McAsey (retired), Andrew McPherson (delisted), Tariek Newchurch (delisted), Paul Seedsman (retired)

Medical room

Rory Sloane is battling to play round one after undergoing another surgery for a detached retina in his right eye. Jake Soligo (ankle), Daniel Curtin (knee soreness), Jordon Butts (hamstring), Wayne Milera (hamstring), Harry Schoenberg (Achilles) and Patrick Parnell (shoulder) are among the Crows to have dealt with injuries during the pre-season. Nick Murray is reported to be ahead of schedule in rehab on his ACL injury.

Rory Sloane handballs during the R21 match between Adelaide and Gold Coast at Adelaide Oval on August 5, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Three burning questions

Is this the year the Crows move out of the rebuilding phase into finals mode?
Adelaide is by no means the finished product after a four-year rebuild under Matthew Nicks, but playing finals for the first time since 2017 is absolutely on the agenda at West Lakes in 2024. A core of seasoned veterans is now complemented by a host of exciting young stars ready to propel the team into the finals.

Will Taylor Walker continue to age like a fine wine?
is coming off a superb season where he kicked a career-high 76 goals, earning All-Australian honours for the first time, and appears primed for another stellar campaign. The veteran forward, who turns 34 in April, has enjoyed an excellent pre-season and is every chance to add an eighth club goalkicking award to his tally.


Can the high-scoring Crows stop leaking goals the other way?
Nicks' high-powered game plan saw Adelaide lead the competition with 2193 points at an average of 95.3 points per game last season, but the Crows' propensity to leak goals at the other end was a key factor in their 10th-placed finish. There are ongoing personnel queries with Tom Doedee departing for Brisbane and Nick Murray rehabbing an ACL injury, but Nicks will have spent a good portion of the off-season tweaking his overall structure to make it more difficult for opposition teams to get a run on.

Track watch

Despite a minor ankle injury late in the program, Jake Soligo has been one of the top trainers at the club this pre-season, which will be music to the ears of Crows fans. The classy midfielder has won plenty of admirers across 37 games in his first two seasons and was rewarded with a six-year contract that ties him to the club until the end of the 2029 season. With a bigger engine to go with his undoubted toughness and footy smarts, 2024 could be a big year for the 21-year-old.

Jake Soligo handballs during the match between Adelaide and Sydney at Adelaide Oval in round 23, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Fantasy lock

The Crows landed Daniel Curtin (DEF/MID, $279,000) with pick No.8 in the AFL Draft. He was a standout player in the U18 Championships playing all over the ground, but he excelled in the midfield before being named at centre half-back in the All-Australian team. A knee injury has interrupted his pre-season, but Curtin looks set to play early in 2024.

Instant hit

The Crows were widely considered to have hit the draft jackpot when the planets aligned for them to trade up to take Western Australian tall phenom Daniel Curtin at pick No.8 last year. Despite some pre-season knee soreness, Curtin has enjoyed a solid preparation and is a huge chance to feature in the season-opener. With question marks lingering over Adelaide's defence, the talented youngster could quickly become a fan favourite.

Daniel Curtin during the AFL Draft at Marvel Stadium on November 20, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

It's a big year for…

After enjoying the best pre-season of his career, it’s time for Riley Thilthorpe to consistently show the undoubted talent that saw him taken second overall at the 2020 draft. He kicked 18 goals last season, five of those came in one game, and went goalless 10 times in a patchy campaign. He's a big lad, so he's quite rightly been given time to develop over the past three years, but his apprenticeship is over. 

Pass mark

Crows supporters have been patient, the club has done well to guide fan sentiment during a difficult period, but the time for being happy with a win here and there against finals-quality opponents, and satisfied with fighting losses, is over. It's finals time.

Best 23 for 2024

B: Chayce Jones, Jordon Butts, Brodie Smith  
Wayne Milera, Nick Murray, Max Michalanney
Mitch Hinge, Jordan Dawson, Jake Soligo 
Josh Rachele, Riley Thilthorpe, Darcy Fogarty
Izak Rankine, Taylor Walker, Ben Keays 
Foll: Reilly O'Brien, Rory Laird, Matt Crouch 
Daniel Curtin, Luke Pedlar, Lachie Murphy, Rory Sloane, Josh Worrell
Emerg: Mark Keane, Lachie Sholl, Chris Burgess