ADELAIDE midfielder Matt Crouch is getting used to life at the Crows without older brother Brad as the All-Australian considers his own future this season as a free agent.
Crouch, who is returning to more pre-season action after hip surgery at the end of last year, has spent his whole career alongside his brother since being drafted by Adelaide at the end of 2013.
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But after Brad's move to St Kilda as a restricted free agent last year, Crouch said there has been an adjustment phase in returning to the club.
And he is already eyeing off the Crows' clash with the Saints in round 13 this season with the pair due to meet as opponents.
"Since I've been at the footy club, my first year Brad was already here, so I'm used to having him around," he told AFL.com.au.
"It's been different but I think the footy club is in good hands, some of our younger guys are going to be good players, and it's just the way it's gone with Brad going to the Saints. He's happy there and he's enjoying his pre-season there so it's going to be a new challenge.
"Obviously I didn't want him to leave. I wish he stayed. I've loved playing footy with him, but it's something he decided to do. It's going to be a bit funny – I've never really played against him at all and I think we play them in Cairns so it's a funny spot to be playing him as well.
"It's going to be exciting, and I think a few of our mates and family back home have already booked their flights up to go and watch so they're looking forward to it."
Crouch will reach free agency status himself this season as his contract ends, and the 2017 best and fairest and All-Australian on-baller said his own plans were unrelated to Brad's decision.
"We're separate players. I've been pretty honest with the club and we've been in contact already and spoken through some things, so I'm happy with where my stuff sits," he said.
"Obviously Brad's was a bit different last year, he wanted to explore his free agency, so he ended up doing that. The pressure comes on and there's a lot of speculation about the future but that's just what we sign up for in this gig."
The 25-year-old played 16 games last year having been omitted early in the Crows' campaign, and said he hadn't set a timeline on his contract talks.
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"I'm open, to be honest. At the moment I'm just going to see how things play out and how we start the season and I'll be pretty open with the footy club between me and them what we want to do," he said.
"I'm loving my time in the pre-season here and some of the youth we've got has brought a real energy so it's been really enjoyable. I'm enjoying being around the place at the moment and I'm concentrating on getting my hip right and getting ready to play again."
The prolific ball-winner has returned to running outside in his rehabilitation and is optimistic he will be featuring in the Crows' AFL Community Series pre-season games.
"I'm confident I will be right to play some pre-season games and then get into round one," he said.
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A member of Adelaide's 2017 Grand Final line-up, Crouch has also lived the Crows' fall down the ladder since then, culminating in the club's first ever wooden spoon last season. He believes there is "absolutely" a perception about the club that the Crows are keen to turn around.
"I think most of all it is about making our supporters and fanbase really proud of us again," he said.
"Obviously I haven't liked the way the club's been viewed from the outside the last few years and I feel like it's a responsibility of us to be able to make our fans proud again.
"We've got a lot of young guys who are going to be good players so it's going to be good to see those young kids come up and play some good footy. I think we'll be very competitive, I'm confident with the way we've started pre-season."
Having been impressed with top draft pick Riley Thilthorpe and young forward Darcy Fogarty's improvement across the pre-season, Crouch is also keen to see the benefits of Jackson Hately to Adelaide's midfield mix, with the former Giant crossing to the club in the off-season.
Crouch is optimistic that all will contribute to a quick jump for the Crows.
"We've seen Brisbane the last few years and I'm not sure people would have thought they would come back as quickly as what they did," he said.
"At the moment you look at it and think it's going to take a few years but you never know. Guys can improve really quickly, confidence grows and you never know what can happen."