ADELAIDE expects an “ugly" contest against the Sydney Swans on Saturday, but it's just the sort of game that debutant Matt Crouch is made for.
Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson said the 18-year-old brother of teammate and emerging star Brad Crouch was cut from the right cloth to impress in his first season.
Matt was a contested football king during last year's NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, averaging 38 disposals a game.
Last week he won 29 touches in an SANFL trial against South Adelaide.
Sanderson said the Swans would be desperate to register their first win of the season on Saturday at Adelaide Oval, but predicted Crouch would handle anything the game threw at him.
"We've got so much respect for Sydney, probably along with Geelong and Hawthorn, they've been the three best sides of the last 10 years," Sanderson said.
"They're a really hard, contested side, they love to tackle, they'll make it really ugly at times with the way they play which is fine, we've got to look for ways to try and exploit that.
"This game was built for Matt, he's a contested ball player, he's a tackler, he loves it hard so yeah at some point in the game tomorrow he's going to have an influence for sure.
"He hasn't played in front of a crowd like this at a stadium like this before, but he'll be fine – the Crouch kids are made of the right stuff.
"We saw what Brad did last year when he came into the side, I'm sure Matt's not going to be much different."
Sanderson swung the axe at selection ahead of Saturday's match, making five changes from the unit that lost to Port Adelaide last Saturday.
Forwards Lewis Johnston, Jason Porplyzia and Shaun McKernan (concussion) were all left out of the side.
The 55-point loss to the Power ensured a winless start for the club, but Sanderson insisted there were enough positive signs in those failures to suggest he was on the right track.
"We're playing some good footy but only for small patches – so we've played two games against two good sides where we've hit the front and then we haven't been able to go on with it," he said.
"Five changes at selection, a couple forced but some opportunities for some guys who haven't played yet and I'm sure we're going to see a better four quarter performance."
One player key to the Crows' hopes on Saturday is Patrick Dangerfield.
The superstar has been well down on his usually dominant form in 2014, averaging 19 possessions – down from 23 in 2013 and 27 in 2012.
Sanderson was quick to support the 23-year-old, claiming Dangerfield was too good to be held down.
"He puts a lot of pressure on himself already, I know there's been external pressure on him this week, he's still going to have a really fantastic season," Sanderson said.
"He's such a proud footballer with such ability, you won't be able to hold him down for too long.
"Hopefully this week he comes out and can win us the game – that's the Cinderella story – but we just need 'Danger' to play his role."