Reilly O'Brien during the round 24 match between West Coast and Adelaide at Optus Stadium, August 26, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

ADELAIDE ruckman Reilly O'Brien is focused on maintaining his own strengths in a Friday night showdown with Fremantle star Luke Jackson, as two of the competition's in-form big men with contrasting styles go head-to-head at Optus Stadium.

O'Brien leads the AFL this season in hit-outs to advantage (14.0) and is among the game's best ruckmen at getting first hands to the ball, with the 202cm Crow carrying a heavy ruck load following the pre-season injury to support man Riley Thilthorpe.

Jackson, meanwhile, is down the order when it comes to taps to advantage (9.0, No.7) and hit-out win rate (34 per cent, No.20) among rucks, but his ground-level game has been elite in a thrilling start to the season for the premiership star.

O'Brien was excited about the match-up in what shapes as a critical area of the ground for the Crows following an 0-2 start to the season.

"I've loved watching bits and pieces of his last couple of games and his work last year, and he's a super dynamic player who is a bit different as a ruckman in terms of the strengths he brings," O'Brien told

Reilly O'Brien is tackled by Luke Jackson during Match Simulation between Fremantle and Adelaide at Victor George Kailis Oval, February 24, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

"It's a different challenge, but one I'm looking forward to. You can get too caught up in who you're playing each week though and change how you're playing, so I'll certainly look to bring my strengths and do what I do.

"That's trying to get dominant hands on the ball, which I'm confident in doing most weeks, and I feel like I'll be able to give our mids first look at the ball.

"Then it will be about trying to negate his work in the follow-up space and make sure I'm quick to get back to him and challenge him with the way I get after the ball too."

O'Brien has been spending significant time in the ruck this season, with his time on ground (87.5 per cent) No.1 among rucks and well up from his 2023 average (81.4 per cent) as the Crows lean on the 28-year-old to grind out games in Thilthorpe's absence.

It's a challenge the 2020 club champion has relished after preparing well over the summer.

Reilly O'Brien handpasses during the round one match between Gold Coast and Adelaide at People First Stadium on March 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"I'm comfortable grinding out games and I've sort of enjoyed it to be honest," he said.

"Sometimes you're conserving a little bit because you know you've got to be on for the last quarter or the last half, so you conserve a few midfield tickets for the ruck contests.

"But I feel my fitness is at a good level where I can grind out games pretty well and I'm certainly up for playing nearly the whole game and delivering a pretty high output for the whole game.

"That's why you do a pre-season, and I've done all the right things with my pre-season to set me up for a really good year. I'm feeling really confident in that."

The challenge for Adelaide's midfield on Friday night is to lift its impact from centre bounce stoppages and quell the Dockers' scoring power from ball-ups and throw-ins around the ground.

Despite O'Brien's form, the Crows have struggled to convert centre bounce wins to inside 50s (ranked 16th) and are conceding the fourth most points against from clearances (36.5).

The Dockers hit Friday night as the AFL's best team for scores from centre bounces (25.5 points a game) as well as having the League's best conversion rate of centre bounce wins to inside 50s (92.3 per cent).

O'Brien said the Crows had focused this week on eliminating some fundamental errors from their game and improving their ball movement following stoppages to make sure they can capitalise on their clearance wins.

Jordan Dawson leads his team off after the round two match between Adelaide and Geelong at Adelaide Oval, March 22, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

"We haven't been able to use the ball as well as we would have liked, so we just need to adjust that and we'll be back up and going," the ruckman said.

"As a stoppage group we're feeling pretty good, but working on tuning up our sharpness around the ball and the sharpness of our ball movement.

"We’re doing a lot of work to make sure we're on the same page and creating opportunities to get some clear hits and exits."