Adelaide’s Brenton Sanderson says he’s made the toughest call in his AFL coaching career by axing Brent Reilly and denying the stalwart a milestone match.
Reilly was to have played his 200th AFL game in Thursday night’s Adelaide Oval encounter against Collingwood but Sanderson dropped the backman due to poor form.
“It is probably the toughest decision I have had to make as senior coach,” Sanderson told reporters in Adelaide on Wednesday.
“On the eve of a milestone game, it seems that it (the axing) can be quite cold.
“Typically, players lift for a milestone game. I know people would ask `why would they, it’s a number?’
“He’s a really important member of our group. He’s very well-liked and respected by his teammates and they would be disappointed that we haven’t selected him for a milestone game.
“However they also understand this is a really important game for us that we must win.
“Brent’s form has been good but not great so we need to put players in that are playing well.”
The Crows summoned Taylor Walker for his first AFL match in more than a year, having recovered from a knee reconstruction.
Sanderson said Walker was “the spirit of our football team” but cautioned against expected too much, too soon from the club’s dual leading goalkicker.
“There is going to be enormous noise here anyway with a sell-out crowd for Collingwood on a Thursday night,” Sanderson said.
“But the fact that Tex is going to run back out for us after being out for over 12 months is just going to be awesome.
“He’s a real spark for us … when he’s up and about, when he’s playing well, we’re typically playing well as a football team.
“Now that we play him, he has to play as if it’s any other game. The shackles are off … now it’s time to play and perform.
“The fairytale is that he comes in and kicks a lot of goals for us but we’re just looking for a really good even balance of attack and defence from him.
“I’m sure he’s going to kick some goals for us at some point during the night, hopefully that is early in the game and that can really get us rolling.”
Adelaide will debut 19-year-old West Australian Charlie Cameron, who has been elevated from the rookie list.