ADELAIDE defender Brodie Smith says the pressure is off the Crows as they prepare for a quick bounce back next year.
The Crows were one of the biggest disappointments last season, going from grand finalists in 2017 to missing the finals altogether.
Now, with a huge injury toll in the rear-view mirror along with other off-field distractions, Smith believes the Crows can live up to Champion Data's prediction that they have the second-strongest list in the competition.
"We were really feeling the pressure of trying to get back to the Grand Final and the disappointment of the year before," Smith told reporters on Thursday.
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"Coming off last year, we feel it's a bit of a fresh start and we've got a point to prove.
"We feel like we're hunting now, we're back into trying to get ourselves back into that top-eight, top-four spot.
Our list is great. We went through at the end of last year and looked at our best 22, 30 players, and it's a really good list.
"We know if we do everything right now in the pre-season, get fit, there's no reason why we can't be one of the best teams next year."
A fit Smith will be a massive boost to the Crows' chances.
The 26-year-old missed the majority of last season recovering from a torn ACL before returning for the round 20 Showdown victory over Port Adelaide.
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After a strong performance the following week against Greater Western Sydney in Canberra, Smith missed the final two games with a calf injury when the finals were out of reach.
"It was really good for me because now I'm not waiting for JLT, round one, for it to be my comeback games, I've got them out of the way," Smith said.
"It feels like I'm going into a fresh season now, which is really good, and I was able to get a good performance in as well.
"It gives me confidence going into round one that I'm ready to go and get back to my best."
Smith is working closely with highly-renowned Crows physio Steve Saunders, who joined the club full-time at the end of last season, on his injury prevention.
"Steve Saunders is keen to get a lot of hip work and core work into me," Smith said.
"He's got some studies behind coming back from (reconstructions) and the benefits of all that sort of hip work, so there are a few new things for me to build on."
The Crows got through a solid training session at Football Park on Thursday.
Kyle Hartigan (knee), David Mackay (Achilles) and Jordan Gallucci (toe) were on light duties.
Recruit Tyson Stengle, second-year defender Andrew McPherson and rookie-listed ruckman Kieran Strachan ran laps, while forward Shane McAdam – acquired from Carlton as part of the Mitch McGovern trade – was also on an individual running program.
Midfielder Brad Crouch continued to impress, training with the main group as he builds up his workloads after missing last season with groin soreness.