RORY Laird is so fastidious with his preparation there was a time he'd have precisely eight almonds on his cereal every morning.

He turns up to every team meeting with a notepad.

On his day off he's in at Adelaide's headquarters doing extra work with the footies and his recovery.

So, although his full-time transition to the midfield has been nothing short of remarkable to those on the outside, to those in the know, it's a lot less surprising.

Laird is having a sensational season and right in the frame to win his third All Australian jacket.

Ahead of round 20, the Adelaide ball magnet ranked second in the competition for contested possessions, third for centre clearances, fourth in total clearances and fourth in total disposals.

Not bad for a first full season on the ball after playing nine years at half-back.

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Laird's quick snap gives Crows handy buffer

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Teammates and coaches alike laud Laird for his impeccable preparation and ability to get every ounce out of his 177cm body.

Brodie Smith is a man that played alongside the 27-year-old in the Crows' backline for much of his career and says there is no fluke to the success of his great mate.

"He's the ultimate professional," Smith told

"Everything he does comes back to footy and his preparation. Everything has to go right, he's got those OCD tendencies.

"At one stage there he had exactly eight almonds on his Special K cereal every breakfast.

"He's dialled that back a bit, but it just shows how perfect everything had to be.

"Today is a day off and I know he's done some touch, recovery, ice pool … he doesn't let any stone go unturned."

Adelaide's Brodie Smith and Rory Laird preparing for an AAMI Community Series match in March, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Laird was taken by Adelaide in the 2011 NAB AFL Rookie Draft with the fifth selection and has had his head down since.

Arriving as a private guy that worked hard on the field and kept to himself off it, he has transformed into one of the most popular players at the club. He's now someone young teammates look up to.

Laird didn't play AFL in his first season, plying his trade in the SANFL before getting a debut in early 2013.

Since then he's played 178 games, missing just 15 in total.

He started as a lockdown defender before blossoming into one of the most creative, attacking players from the back half in the competition.

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Former captain and current midfield coach Nathan van Berlo said he figured out quickly Laird was special.

"People wouldn't see how much of a pro he is," van Berlo said.

"He works his backside off, it doesn't just happen. He's a great example to blokes that the way he trains is the way he plays.

"He comes with a notepad to every meeting, he's always working on his craft. He just wants to get the best out of himself."

Laird's best won him All Australian selection in 2017 and 2018. Midway through last season coach Matthew Nicks threw him into the middle of the ground, with instant rewards.

Adelaide's Shane McAdam and Rory Laird celebrate a win during round 13, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Although it's not often players transition from defence into the midfield – at least not with the success Laird has had – Smith says the traits were always there.

"He just loves winning the footy," Smith said.

"Those diving handballs out of packs are a trademark of his.

"I was able to feed off him in the backline. I knew if I followed him around I'd get a fair bit of the ball.

"When the team was going well, we had really good defenders around us and gave us the freedom to go after the footy."

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Laird himself said there had been some big adjustments, particularly building his aerobic capacity.

"I’d had a few pinch hits in the midfield but never a sustained period of time,” Laird said.

"I don’t get as much high-speed running as I did down back, this is more in close, short and sharp and a lot more physical contact and I have pulled up a lot sorer than I have in previous years mainly through the upper body with grappling and tackling.

"Because you’re around the ball so much you are exposed to that a lot more and I enjoy that side of things."

Rory Laird speaks to teammates during an Adelaide training session at West Lakes on February 4, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Van Berlo said he was thrilled to learn he'd have Laird at his disposal when he returned to the Crows in a coaching capacity prior to this season.

Seeing his ability to win contests one-on-one as a defender, and his prowess at cleaning up ground balls better than most, gave him confidence he had an elite midfielder on his hands.

"When you've got a player of his calibre and his talent that works as hard as he does, we're pretty lucky.

"He's only been playing midfield for 12 months now, which suggests there's still a lot of growth in Lairdy, which is exciting.

"He's got a lot of upside left in his game

"The sky's the limit. It's pretty scary to think how good he could be."