While delighted by the return of one of his own key forwards from injury, it’s the threat posed by a visiting marksman that has Mick Malthouse concerned.
That threat comes from Taylor Walker, Adelaide’s big-marking tall who will play a crucial role in the Crows’ bid for victory when they face the Blues at the MCG on Saturday.
Malthouse lavished praise on Walker after a closed training session at Visy Park on Friday, just as he did on the mulleted South Australian last year in his role as a media commentator.
But it was hard not to think Malthouse may also have been playing mind games when he compared the emerging Walker to two of the AFL’s great forwards, Tony Lockett and Jason Dunstall.
”I made a comment some time, I think it was last year, and I had the luxury of making it without reference to being not attached to any football side – he reminds me of a modern-day version of a Lockett or Dunstall,” Malthouse said.
”Let’s not get caught up in this – they are out-and-out champions and he has a lot of time to prove that. But he is only a young bloke, he is powerful, he is not six-foot-six. He is the traditional, front-end player that has great strength, great kicking power, plays for his teammates and kicks goals.
”When you trace it back along the lines of those players [Dunstall and Lockett], he is as close to those type of players physically as any player in the competition.”
Walker, at 192 centimetres and 100 kilograms, is an imposing figure, and will almost certainly match up on full-back Michael Jamison, who has had a superb year.
Last year, Walker booted 63 goals in 19 games, with his average of 3.3 goals a game second only to Lance Franklin.
This year, his role has changed slightly, with more of an emphasis on winning the ball up the ground.
He won 51 per cent of his disposals inside 50 last season, this year it’s slipped to 38 per cent. This may have contributed to the average number of goals per game dropping to 2.5.
While Malthouse’s immediate focus will be Walker, this will turn to Jarrad Waite on Sunday when he resumes from a calf injury for the Blues’ affiliate, Northern Blues.
As Malthouse said, it’s been a long wait for Waite, the key forward who is crucial to the Blues’ finals hopes.
”He has trained very well over the last couple of weeks [but it’s been] the old saying: ‘When they are ready, give them another week’. He will play as much as he can,” Malthouse said.
Waite, 30, remains the Blues’ premier forward but since 2008, when he managed 21 matches, he has logged only 48 senior appearances, including 11 last season.
Small forward Eddie Betts has recovered from a fractured jaw and will line up against the Crows.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.