A SUMMER focusing on his disposal is paying off for Adelaide defender Rory Laird, who re-signed with the Crows for three years on Monday.
Laird has been one of Adelaide's best players this season, averaging almost 23 possessions a game – up from 16 a game last year.
The accuracy of those possessions has been even more impressive.
Laird's disposal efficiency of 81.1 per cent is bettered at West Lakes only by fellow defender Luke Brown (81.8 per cent) – although Brown has averaged far fewer touches a game.
The 21-year-old said his great jump forward had been a result of hard work and the confidence that work had produced.
"I was out of the side last year and that was my goal to come back into the team at the start of the year and lock down a position," Laird said.
"A bit of work over the summer with a couple of coaches has helped me with [my disposal] and it's showing on game day with me kicking the ball a bit better than I was last year.
"The more games you play and the more comfortable you get at the level – a bit more experience – that confidence comes.
"Putting in consistent performances kind of helps that as well."
Coach Phil Walsh was full of praise for Laird.
He acknowledged Laird's significant improvement in 2015 and insisted he would play a pivotal role in the club's back six in the seasons to come.
"Rory has been one of our most consistent performers this season with his fierce attack on the footy and opposition," Walsh said.
"He is another one of those players who epitomises the team-first attitude and I think most would agree that he has taken his game to another level.
"He will continue to play an important role in our emerging backline in the years ahead."
Laird agreed he's been playing the best football of his career so far this season, and the Crows will want it from him again on Saturday when they take on the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba.
The Lions have struggled badly this year and suffered another significant defeat at the weekend - smashed by 72 points by the Western Bulldogs.
But given Adelaide's precarious state in seventh position it can hardly afford to take the Lions lightly.
The Crows are one of five teams locked on six wins, meaning a loss in Brisbane could see them fall out of the top eight.
"We're sitting right in the middle of the pack on the ladder, so it's a crucial game to get the four points," Laird said.