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If 'The Glove' fits: Crow set to be handed Rioli

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Luke Brown is likely to get first crack at the in-form Daniel Rioli - AFL,Grand Final,Adelaide Crows,Luke Brown
Luke Brown is likely to get first crack at the in-form Daniel Rioli
I'd say Rioli would be the start and we'll move on from there. He played a quality game so I'm really looking forward to possibly matching up on him because you always want to play on the best and you always want to get the job done that way.
Adelaide defender Luke Brown

THE TASK of stopping Daniel Rioli will fall to multiple Adelaide defenders, but underrated Crows backman Luke Brown is excited about prospect of having the first crack at the in-form youngster in Saturday's Grand Final. 

The Richmond forward announced himself as a September specialist – much like his Norm Smith Medal-winning uncle Maurice and cousin Cyril – with four electric goals in the preliminary final.

Brown, 25, mainly played on Rioli in the Crows' 76-point thumping of the Tigers in round six this season, and said he expected to face him again on Saturday. 

"They have a few small forwards up there, I played on Rioli a bit last time but they have a lot of numbers that go through there," Brown told AFL.com.au.

"I'd say Rioli would be the start and we'll move on from there. 

"He played a quality game so I'm really looking forward to possibly matching up on him because you always want to play on the best and you always want to get the job done that way."

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Brown watched the Tigers' prelim win over Greater Western Sydney at a mate's baby shower, and had a particular interest in how Rioli took the game apart with his forward pressure and potency around goal. 

His pace and determination are traits that stood out, and the way the Tigers – who are rated No.1 in the competition for tackles inside their forward 50 – work as a forward unit.

But, just as unique as their mosquito-fleet forward line is and the challenge it possesses, Brown said the Crows' back half have their own special features.  

"Our backline is capable of playing on multiple match-ups," he said. 

"They are unique and can be dangerous but I'm confident with the players we've got down in the backline, and with the mids and forwards helping us out, we're capable of getting it done.

"We're versatile, we can play on different match-ups, and I think that's what makes us a unique backline and hard to play on." 

Members of the Crows' backline are generally happy to fly under the radar.

Kyle Hartigan, Jake Lever, Daniel Talia, Jake Kelly and Rory Laird – with David Mackay stepping up last week in the absence of the injured Brodie Smith – quietly get the job done, mixing and matching on a variety of opponents.

They'll get their specific starting match-ups later this week, with backline coach James Podsiadly to provide vision among other things as an option for their preparation.

 

Brown will go in with confidence after his consistent year, just six years after his reinvention as a defender following a junior career in the midfield. 

These days, the South Australian is known to his teammates as 'The Glove' for his ability to rob forwards of space, after his former Norwood coach and current Port Adelaide assistant Nathan Bassett identified his talents as transferable to a role in defence.

"My game has changed over the years," Brown said.

"At Norwood, I was a running half-back and I was able to take the game on.

"I thrived on the opportunity. [Bassett] trusted me completely to do what I could do, and it came from there

"Then I came to the Crows and I was offered the opportunity to play more as a lockdown.

"As that came along, I haven't been able to get out of that position because I've done it pretty well so far. 

"All I can ask for is to play each week and help the team win. You can't ask for more than that." 

Brown grew up in the outer north-eastern Adelaide suburb of Tea Tree Gully and was a "little footy nut" as a kid; he recalls "constantly" kicking a footy around, even when he was on his own.

His family were all Port Magpies/Port Power supporters, but followed his allegiance to the tri-colours when he was drafted in 2011. 

"I've converted most of my family and I'm trying to get my mates who are Port fans over the line," he said.

"The majority have come over, and I even have a mate who's a Richmond fan who said he couldn't be happier for me and wants me to win this week, so that's saying something.

"Family and friends just want to see you do well.

"As soon as you start looking like getting drafted, you become more of a neutral fan and then when I got picked up by the Crows, I couldn't have been happier."