Adelaide rule out injured Walker for AFL season opener

Steve Larkin |

Taylor Walker is still in doubt for the Crows’ season-opener against the Suns.
Taylor Walker is still in doubt for the Crows’ season-opener against the Suns.

Adelaide’s ace forward Taylor Walker has been ruled out of his club’s AFL season opener against Gold Coast.

The All Australian attacker has failed to train in recent days because of a back  injury ahead of the Crows’ away clash against the Suns on Saturday night.

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks says the 33-year-old won’t be risked after being sidelined from the Crows’ main training session on Wednesday.

“He won’t play, unfortunately,” Nicks told SEN SA radio.

“Not quite what we were after today, and there won’t be a risk taken with that.

“It’s obviously not ideal when you lose the experience of Tex (Walker).”

Walker’s absence follows fellow forward Riley Thilthorpe being ruled out for three months because of a knee injury.

Thilthorpe was hurt in the final quarter of Adelaide’s last trial game against West Coast.

The injuries will force Nicks to recast his attack, with former Sun Chris Burgess to make his debut for the Crows, and 12-gamer Lachlan Gollant also in the selection frame.

“Both of those players deserve the opportunity, unfortunately it comes through someone else’s misfortune in Riley Thilthorpe,” Nicks told reporters earlier on Wednesday.

“But that’s the way the game works.

“We have a squad mentality that the next one is ready to step up.

“We’ll need that back-up ruck, and Burgess has done a lot of that over his career, Lachie Gollant has pinch-hit at times for us.”

Nicks is entering his fifth year as Adelaide’s coach, with his contract expiring at season’s end, but said there was “no panic” about sealing a fresh deal.

Matthew Nicks.
Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks talks tactics during a Crows huddle. (Jason O’BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS)

“It would be nice to have a (new) contract done,” Nicks said.

“But at the same time it hasn’t been the focus for me or the footy club.

“The focus has been about the off-season, preparing, improving on last year.

“It (another contract) is still not really the focus at the moment, but conversations are being had and there’s no panic around that.

“That will look after itself and I’m confident we’re on the same page from a point of view of what I’m looking for in the future and what the footy club wants to do.”

Nicks welcomed bullish forecasts of Adelaide returning to the finals for the first time since losing the 2017 decider.

“There’s a lot of expectation out there, as there should be,” he said.

“But at the same time … you have got to earn the right to get in there.

“That’s where we’re at at the moment. We’re a young side, we’re still developing … but we’re going to embrace the expectation.”