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Tall trio in Tippett replacement tussle

Jacobs crowing over new deal Sam Jacobs ecstatic to re-sign with Adelaide for a further three years
Josh Jenkins (R) and Shaun McKernan of the Crows contest a mark during the AFL Round 18 match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at Simonds Stadium, Geelong. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Shaun McKernan and Josh Jenkins fly for a mark last year
That's sort of a game within a game almost, because there's three of them now ... all going for that one spot
Sam Jacobs

IT'S THE selection headache that has the football world peeking through Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson's office windows.

Who will replace Kurt Tippett?

Josh Jenkins' development has been astounding since he crossed from Essendon at the end of the 2011 season, to the point where many called for him to fulfill his purpose early and replace Tippett during last year's finals series.

However, the Crows have plenty of options. The addition of former Richmond ruckman Angus Graham and the continued development of Shaun McKernan has complicated Adelaide's original back-up plan.

With three men vying for one position, star ruckman Sam Jacobs is captivated.

"That's sort of a game within a game almost, because there's three of them now with 'Gus' (Angus Graham), 'Shauny Mac' (Shaun McKernan) and 'Jay Jay' (Josh Jenkins) all going for that one spot," Jacobs said.

"Jay Jay had an outstanding pre-season, but Shauny McKernan … was outstanding on the weekend (against Fremantle) playing ruck and also up forward and Gus has obviously played a lot of AFL footy too.

"It's going to be exciting, I think there's still another two (NAB Cup) games to go so hopefully someone puts their hand up."

Jacobs, who signed a three-year-deal with Adelaide on Monday despite not falling out of contract until the end of 2013, agreed with Sanderson that his side had the option of fielding a variety of forward set-ups.

The trick to ensuring it remained a successful attack would be to avoid tunnel vision at the selection table.

"I think it would work as well with three talls, I know at times last year we played (Taylor) Walker, Tippett and McKernan or Jenkins, so depending on who we play I don't think anything will be set in stone," he said.

"If we play against a smaller defence, we might try and stretch them or if I've been taking a bit more work load they might help me out too."

Jacobs' decision to avoid free agency by re-signing while still under contract might buck the trend of current big name players, but the 24-year-old said he didn't want to play anywhere else.

Instead, his focus was on how to get better after a season that saw him nominated for All Australian selection.

The answer, he said, was closely related to his elevation into Adelaide's leadership group.

"That's part of my game to go to a new level as well, taking control a lot more, not only midfield but if I'm resting forward, just having that confidence to tell blokes no matter who it is, where we need to improve," he said.

"I don't want to be a flash in the pan and just be a one-year good player, for me the challenge is to continue the high standard I set last year."

Sam Jacobs is a ruckman in AFL Fantasy. He averaged 87 points in 2012. Register your team at our AFL Fantasy hub.

Harry Thring is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Harry.