Billy Dowling in action during the National Championships U18 Boys match between Vic Metro and South Australia, GMHBA Stadium, July 17, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

THE SEASON-ending injury to Adelaide midfielder Matt Crouch has handed a debut to teenager Billy Dowling. 

Meanwhile, veteran on-baller Rory Laird has slammed the team's "terrible mindset" in the heavy loss to Hawthorn on Saturday, and explosive forward Josh Rachele says he'll seek clarity on his role after only attending two centre bounces against the Hawks. 

The Crows announced on Tuesday the 19-year-old South Australian will be named to face Richmond on Thursday night, rewarding a run of good form at state league level.

Dowling was drafted to Adelaide with the 43rd overall pick in the 2022 AFL National Draft after being named MVP of the SANFL under 18s competition that year.

He played 20 SANFL games for the club last year, averaging over 18 disposals a game, and has lifted his output to 24 touches a match in the first eight outings of 2024.


The Crows were forced to make at least the one change after scans on Monday confirmed Crouch would need shoulder surgery.

"It's really disappointing for Matt who has been playing some great footy this year," Adelaide high performance manager Darren Burgess said.

"Unfortunately, the severity of the injury requires surgery and he will miss the rest of the season."

The Crows will also be waiting to see how captain Jordan Dawson (foot) and former skipper Taylor Walker (back) pull up ahead of the must-win clash against the Tigers at Adelaide Oval.

After turning their season around from a 0-4 start, the Crows' loss to Hawthorn in round 12 makes a return to finals unlikely, but club stalwart Rory Laird said they weren't looking beyond this week's match.

Crows players look dejected after the round 12 match between Hawthorn and Adelaide at the MCG, June 1, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

"With where our record is and where we are on the ladder ... I don't think you can look three or four weeks ahead, I don't think there's much point to that," Laird said on Tuesday.

"It starts from Thursday night. It's a quick five-day turnaround which is actually probably the best result for us, to get back and play.

"We deal with Thursday night first then we move on."

The veteran rates the 27-point MCG defeat last Saturday, when the Crows conceded the initial four goals of the game, as arguably Adelaide's worst performance of the season.

"It was just a terrible mindset that we were in," Laird said.


"They (Hawthorn) came out and punched us in the face and we weren't sort of ready for it, so it was obviously a really disappointing performance, probably one of our lower ones for the year.

"It's probably the million dollar question in footy, why teams start like that ... it's not a thing that we just go out and go 'oh yeah, we're not going to try it today', we obviously didn't do that.

"It's a hard thing to be absolutely on edge all the time, but you can't allow teams to have that 10, 15 per cent (advantage) for even a quarter."

Laird said the onus was on Adelaide's players to solve the issue in Thursday night's home fixture against Richmond.

"It's a lot to do with the players, if not all of it," he said.

"There is a coaching aspect but they're not the one out there playing the games."

Josh Rachele in action during Adelaide's loss to Hawthorn in round 12, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Rachele, who was a key midfield cog in Adelaide's huge win over West Coast in round 11, said he was left with some confusion after only being injected into the middle twice against the Hawks. 

The 21-year-old attended 14 centre bounces against the Eagles but only two at the MCG last Saturday. He finished with just 11 disposals and no goals against Hawthorn. 

"We didn't get a lot of inside 50s on the weekend and I didn't play a lot of midfield again," Rachele told the Nine Network on Tuesday. 

"It's something that I probably don't really know what's going on, too, so I'll sit with the coaches and ask questions today about even how can I inject myself into the game when I'm not getting too much of the ball."