IT HAS not taken long for Matt Crouch to acclimatise to life at the top level, with the Adelaide midfielder named the round five NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.
Crouch, who turned 19 on Monday, won the nomination after his standout 28-possession effort in the Crows' win over Greater Western Sydney on Sunday.
The midfielder joined the Crows through last year's draft as a renowned ball-winner and was headed for an even bigger breakout game before being subbed at three-quarter time with hamstring cramp.
"It was good to get another win on the board and the boys are playing a lot better than we did earlier in the season, and hopefully we can keep that going," Crouch told AFL.com.au.
"Individually I thought I played OK and hopefully I can continue to be consistent over the next couple of weeks."
It was Crouch's third game for the Crows, and already he has averaged 23 disposals an outing – continuing his form from under-18 level, where his strength around the contest and ability to accumulate possessions at stoppages were his defining traits.
"It's been good but I think I've still got a lot of work to do defensively and hopefully I can keep improving in that area. I've been pretty happy, but hopefully I can keep going," he said.
The Crows traded Bernie Vince to Melbourne to acquire the draft pick (No.23 overall) used to secure Crouch, and have been pleased with the improvements in his running capacity and his desire to make an impact immediately at the top level.
A pre-season has refined Crouch's body shape – he's dropped almost two kilos – and already he appears comfortable in the Crows' midfield brigade.
"I improved my running a lot in the pre-season," he said.
"It's amazing the benefit of being a full-time footballer and I think I've improved a lot with my running. There's obviously still a lot of work to do, and it's such a running game now."
Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson praised Crouch for his ability to adapt to AFL conditions straight away.
"Matt has a real hunger to learn more about the game and his role in the team," Sanderson said.
"He is also a fierce competitor, who makes great decisions under immense pressure."
A premier performer in the TAC Cup last year for the North Ballarat Rebels, where he averaged 37 disposals an outing, Crouch joined his brother Brad at the Crows.
However the pair is yet to play a home and away game together after Brad's leg fracture in round two.
Brad Crouch was one of four Adelaide nominees for the NAB AFL Rising Star last year, alongside Sam Kerridge, Rory Laird and Luke Brown.