ADELAIDE coach Matthew Nicks has backed the Crows' move to target Melbourne's Max Gawn off the ball last week, declaring "we actually didn't know Gawn was injured".
Behind the goals vision on AFL.com.au's The Round So Far revealed the full extent of the Crows' blocking of the Demons skipper during their 51-point loss on Wednesday night.
Gawn entered the match with a shoulder/back complaint that required scans and was later rested from Sunday's win over North Melbourne.
It prompted Port Adelaide champion Kane Cornes to highlight the Crows' tactic as "disgraceful" and "pre-meditated".
However, speaking ahead of a clash with Collingwood on Tuesday – where the Crows will rest defender Daniel Talia and drop former first-round pick Chayce Jones – Nicks said there was no malice directed at Gawn.
"We actually didn't know Gawn was injured, we had no knowledge of that at all," Nicks said on Monday.
"We came into the game knowing Gawn's a very good player and Melbourne had done a lot of work over the last month … we'd studied their last month.
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"They'd done a lot of blocking off ball for him and freeing him up, so we went in with the mindset of not allowing that 'throwing the first punch' (mentality), becoming a physical side off ball so that we weren't dictated to.
"That came across a different way to some in the media, it was never our intention to go after Gawn in any way.
"We were looking to free ROB (ruckman Reilly O'Brien) up really to try and expose it.
"He's (Gawn) such a good footballer that if we allow him to run around the ground freely, we're going to struggle to get ourselves in that game."
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin called on the umpires to provide greater support for his dual best and fairest following the win over the Crows.
"We continually speak to the various powers to be about the attention he gets, and he gets clearly targeted around just getting to a stoppage," Goodwin said.
"Hopefully he'll start to get some protection at some stage."
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Taylor Walker and Ned McHenry were among the chief aggressors but Nicks backed McHenry adding, "He had some really positive stuff that came through in the game and one of those was the area of looking after his teammates."
Nicks didn't shy away from using the same methods against Brodie Grundy on Tuesday night.
"We'll look at being physical again, we'll look at taking our opposition on but in different areas depending on what that opposition do and where their strengths and areas we might be able to expose are," he said.
Kyle Hartigan will replace Talia in defence, while Jones will be given a chance to "free his mind" from the rigours of the game after a quiet month of form.
Brodie Smith is a confirmed starter after missing the loss to the Demons with a knee issue.
Captain Rory Sloane will meet with specialists in coming days to determine his availability for the Crows' round 12 clash against the Western Bulldogs on August 16.