Izak Rankine looks dejected after Adelaide's loss to Gold Coast at People First Stadium in round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

MATTHEW Nicks will have to do something he has never done before as coach – beat a top-eight team on the road – if Adelaide is to avoid a 0-3 start to a season that loomed as one that would return the club to September.

The Crows have made no secret of their ambition to play finals this year, but two losses to start the season has left them desperate for a win on Friday night against the unbeaten Fremantle in Perth.

Having begun the year with a loss away to Gold Coast, Adelaide's record outside South Australia since Nicks took over as coach at the start of 2020 now stands at just nine wins from 39 games (23.1 per cent).

Highlighting the depth of the Crows' road struggles in recent years, five of their nine away wins under Nicks have come against teams that finished the season in the bottom three on the ladder – West Coast (twice), North Melbourne (twice) and Hawthorn.

And none of the nine wins have come against a team that was in the top eight at the time, with only one of them – a one-point victory over the Western Bulldogs in Ballarat in 2022 – against a club that played finals that year.

Overall, the Crows have played a total of 102 games since they last tasted success against a top-eight side away from home, against St Kilda in round six, 2019.

With games against Melbourne and Essendon (at home) and Carlton (away) to come after the clash with the fifth-placed Dockers, and the ink barely dry on Nicks's new two-year contract extension, Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes fears where the Crows could be sitting after the first six weeks of the season.

"They went really early on the contract extension – they didn't need to go that early on it," Cornes said on The Round So Far on Saturday.

"It's going to get pretty awkward if they're 1-5, which they could be, and then there'll be some questions asked because they've signed him for three years.


"We all like him, he's a really nice guy and has a good connection with his playing group. But his winning percentage is 34 per cent, they've never been to the finals and they've started 0-2 against two teams that didn't play finals last year."

The good news for Nicks and the Crows is, despite the raw numbers, recent trips interstate have indicated a win isn't far away.

Four of the club's past five away trips have resulted in defeats by less than a goal: against the Suns in round one this year and against Brisbane, Melbourne and Collingwood – all top-four sides – at the end of last season.

The club's poor away record is one Nicks is more than aware of and was a focus on a recent education trip to New Zealand, where he and his coaching group met with the mighty All Blacks rugby team.

"The understanding of their history and the Māori and who they are as people, they take it everywhere with them," Nicks told AFL.com.au of the "gold nuggets" he picked up on the trip.

"They travel around the world and play, but they take that ownership of who they are and what they represent with them.

"We talked about last year our inability to win on the road, [and] we're not putting it all down to the fact we maybe didn't know who we were, but we'll use something similar to really try and get in touch with our history as a footy club and as a state."

Matthew Nicks after Adelaide's loss to Sydney in R23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The recent addition of Gather Round in South Australia has given the Crows an advantage, with the extra round plus their venue-share arrangement with Port Adelaide meaning they will play 13 games at Adelaide Oval this year compared to just 10 on the road. The Power will also play 13 games at the venue, while clubs like Sydney and Brisbane that don't venue share or move home matches to other venues have 11 games at their home grounds this season.

Regardless of who they play and where, Cornes says Nicks had "an awful night" as coach in the loss to Geelong on Friday night and fears the club's midfield is one-dimensional.

"I could not believe that (Nicks) could let Tom Stewart stand there and mark the footy like that all alone ... and I think the Adelaide coaches need to have a really good look at themselves this week," Cornes said.

"My concern on Adelaide is have they drafted too many of the same midfielders? Berry, Soligo, McHenry, Crouch, Laird ... they're all similar players where they're really tough and contested. But when it comes time to hit an easy kick, that is a real weakness in their game."

Adelaide's win-loss record since start of 2020

At Adelaide Oval
20-27 (42.6 per cent win rate)

At all other venues
9-30 (23.1 per cent win rate)

Away wins under Matthew Nicks

R17, 2020 - Beat Carlton (11th) by 16 points at People First Stadium, Gold Coast
R4, 2021 - Beat North Melbourne (18th) by 41 points at Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
R13, 2021 - Beat St Kilda (12th) by six points at Cazalys Stadium, Cairns
R19, 2021 - Beat Hawthorn (17th) by 19 points at Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
R6, 2022 - Beat Western Bulldogs (10th) by one point at Mars Stadium, Ballarat
R15, 2022 - Beat North Melbourne (17th) by 57 points at Blundstone Arena, Hobart
R21, 2022 - Beat West Coast (17th) by 16 points at Optus Stadium, Perth
R6, 2023 - Beat Hawthorn (18th) by 3 points at UTAS Stadium, Launceston
R24, 2023 - Beat West Coast (18th) by 45 points at Optus Stadium, Perth