SATURDAY night feels a long time coming for Tom Doedee. It will be his fourth Showdown clash against Port Adelaide, but the first with a full house at Adelaide Oval in two years after COVID-19 restricted last season's crowd to just over 2000 supporters.
The Crows' potential captain-in-waiting this week described to AFL.com.au the build-up to the game, in which is his club's biggest of the home and away season.
"It's an atmosphere unlike any other," he said.
Crows players trickle into the club from 11am, with things officially kicking off from 1pm. Some players get into some weights, while others jump on the exercise bike and unload from the weekend.
"We come in and do a bit of a review and then it's a bit of your own time. There's a one-hour weights block and a one-hour flush run block where we get out and do hands and a bit of kicking and a bit of a run," Doedee said.
"If you want physio, massage, ice bath, have to do your coach one-on-one, do your vision. It's sort of a pick and choose your own adventure."
Following the team's review of the loss to the Giants, the Crows do their session inside 'The Shed', their facility at West Lakes. In a session that runs late into the afternoon, Nicks takes an active role, stepping through set-ups and structures, regularly throwing questions at his young group.
"Tuesday for us moves onto a bit more of a skills session and prep for the week. It's not so much looking at Port just yet, it's more about making sure everyone's healthy and ready to go and you can be a bit monitored," Doedee said.
For the Crows this week, it meant an early morning run, of which most attention was on skipper Rory Sloane in his bid to return from eye surgery to face Port Adelaide. Others, such as defender Luke Brown, ran laps as pushes for selection after an Achilles injury.
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"If you're a bit sore from the weekend then you'll do a bit less and if you're feeling good you'll do a bit more and it's more weights, touch, skills, training," said Doedee. "We're not so much looking at Port just yet."
Sloane later fronts a media conference at Adelaide Oval, revealing he is still waiting on his specialist's clearance to face the Power.
It's the Crows' nominated day off on Wednesday. Some don't use it, and will choose to come into the club for an extra massage or physical preparation or a light 'touch' session. But on the whole it is a quiet moment in a big and busy build-up.
"My usual day off involves watching a movie of some sort, whether it be going to the movies or staying at home. Thankfully I've had a Uni assignment due earlier on in the week so I'm pretty much clear so I'll definitely go and see a movie. Then I'll just try to decompress and get away from [footy] for the rest of it," he said.
"Since I've been drafted I've had interests outside of footy so I'm someone who does find it easy to move away from footy and enjoy my own time, but I know once you get into the routine of the season it can be quite difficult and you can get a bit sore and you start to think you should be doing a bit more, especially if you're losing games or out of form."
It's full steam ahead by Thursday, with the Crows' attention turning solely to Port. Before the Crows' main training session, which kicks off at 9.30am, the coaching panel run an opposition meeting about the Power. Their training session is driven by what they look at in the team meeting and how they want to perform against their crosstown rivals.
"It's our big hit-out before we have weights in the afternoon and recovery from there. It's all eyes on Port from Thursday," Doedee said.
It is also when Doedee starts to narrow his focus onto which Port forwards he will be matched up against on gameday.
"I watch the inside-50s from last week for Port, I'll watch their CB (centre bounce) to understand their structure and then start to watch the majority of the key forwards and mediums just to get an idea," he said.
"I usually end up playing on a few different guys anyway so I have to watch their whole forward line in the end."
The Crows start their Friday morning by having the team for Saturday night's clash announced before having a 'Captain's run' – a light training session to ensure they are fresh for the clash on Saturday night. Some recovery follows, where players may jump in the pool, before the players are left to their own devices.
"The training is just to make sure there's some fine-tuning with our hands and skills so we're ready to go," Doedee said.
"We do some recovery then go home and do what you please. I try not to do any activity on Friday night and just relax, and then on Saturday morning on game-day I'll go for a walk.
"For me it's more about relaxing and getting away from it and making sure I've done everything throughout the week so that my Friday afternoon and Saturday morning can be completely clear."
Doedee said the circumstances of this week, with both South Australian clubs coming off heavy defeats in round seven, made for an even more intriguing battle.
"It's going to be an interesting one – they're coming off a loss, we're coming off a loss so both teams will be pretty motivated and I think both teams, especially the young boys who haven't played in one, are pretty excited," he said.