The Big Questions – 2024 Adelaide Crows Season Preview

There seems to be a feeling that the Adelaide Crows will walk into the 2024 AFL Finals at the moment, doesn’t there? There is a hell of a lot of water to go under the bridge before then, and despite having a well-structured list, plenty still has to go right for the Crows if they’re to make this happen.

Adelaide should have played finals in 2023. We all know the story – the goal that was awarded the point… the robbery on Adelaide Oval. Alas, the Crows ultimately fell short, finishing tenth in what will be remembered as a wasted year…

… unless they use 2024 to make good on what they built in 2023.

With a great mix of veteran stars, exciting young forwards, and a hard-nosed midfield, Adelaide are looking to start making some noise once again, and the more I think about this team, the more I like their chances.

It’s that time of year, already.

The break after Christmas and New Year is over. The holidays are finished for AFL players, and the hard stuff starts now. Yes, the teams had been training for well over a month prior to Christmas, but as we head into 2024, the ante is upped and the intensity increases.

This is where premierships are won and lost. This is where improvements are made and lists come together. New faces, new colours, old heads with renewed passion… so much feeds into the making of a contender. And as the days tick down toward to the intra-club clashes, practice games, and eventually the real stuff, questions are raised about each team and how they’re going to perform in 2024.

We don’t do things by halves here, at The Mongrel Punt. When we do a season preview, we go all out to make sure it is the best, most comprehensive coverage you’ll receive. We pride ourselves on it. If you are going to read one season preview for your team, or any team, this series provides it.

The way it works is as follows.

Each club has a minimum of 15 questions asked about the upcoming season, their coaches, their players, and their expectations. The answers are not glossed over. We dive deep on each and every one – some singular answers would normally be long enough for an entire column. The first five questions/answers are free for you to consume. The next 10-14 for each club are for our members, including a special appearance from Mrs Mongrel to throw her two cents in the mix.

Isn’t it a bit early for a season preview? Well, I suppose, but do you know how long it takes to write seven thousand words? That’s 18 x 7,000… gets out the calculator… that’s 126,000 words. The average novel is about 85,000 words, so buckle the hell up with these previews.

Also, if there are any issues that arise after the publication of the preview, they will be covered in standalone articles to act as additions to this preview.

You will not read a deeper season preview than this – I guarantee it. This is where we start the run to the new season and believe me – nobody does it better than The Mongrel.




Well, after 2023, it is difficult to accept anything but a finals appearance for this team. However, unless they can start winning on the road, they’re not going to go too far.

That’s about as simple an answers as there’ll be in this article. Last season, Adelaide had a home and away record of 2-8 playing on the road, and unless they can begin to be a more consistent threat away from their home state, any dreams of finishing top-four will be out the window. Their wins came against the Hawks in Launceston, and West Coast at Optus Stadium, but the losses mounted quickly, and sapped the team of any momentum they started to build.

That said, they were not far away against some of the heavy hitters of the competition when playing them on the road. They took Collingwood to the limit twice in 2023, with one of those games coming at the MCG in Round 15. It was a belter that could have gone either way.

Their loss to Brisbane at the Gabba could have easily been a Crows win, as well. The Lions got up by a goal, but the Crows were in it up their eyeballs.

Fair or unfair, all roads lead to the MCG in September. Adelaide are scheduled to play there just twice in the first 14 rounds – once against Hawthorn. And once against the reigning premiers. These are the games the Crows must set themselves for. If they are to be taken seriously in 2024, they have to secure wins at the ‘G. Yes, call sof VicBias will sound out from the usual suspects, but facts are facts – being a good team at home will only ghet you so far when you’re a Non-Vic team.

And then, if they do honour the expectations of almost everyone involved in footy and make finals, there’ll be no media narrative telling us that this team “can’t win at the MCG” as there was for Brisbane this year. You just don’t need that sort of rubbish hanging over you.

Do the work early and prevent the inane ramblings later on.



This is a two-tiered question as one part is “How long is Tex capable of maintaining this startling form?”

The second part would be “How long do the Crows need him to maintain this level of performance?”

First things first, Walker is in one of the best patches of form of his career. He has emerged from the troublesome 2020 season with the type of stretch that any forward in the league would be proud of. Assuming he retains his fitness and can avoid those pesky soft tissue injuries, there is absolutely no reason we cannot see another year where Walker threatens to grab himself a Coleman Medal in a late season career renaissance that would make John Travolta envious.

Of course, that brings us to the second part – how long do the Crows need him to do this stuff?

So much of how the Crows go in 2024 will depend on the other blokes in their forward line. I have belief in both Izak Rankine and Josh Rachele. Playing interchangeable roles, they are a very dangerous combination that can both hit the scoreboard and set up teammates when they move through the middle of the ground. But the other big guys… is there faith in them, yet?

Let’s look at some numbers.

In 2023, the combination of Walker, Darcy Fogarty, and Riley Thilthorpe combined for 128 goals. Tex had 76, Fogarty claimed 34, and Thilthorpe had 18. Whilst the club was aided by Rankine’s 36 goals, Luke Pedlar’s 25, and Josh Rachele’s 23, you’d like to see the gaps close between Walker’s goal tally and those of Fog and Thrillhouse.

In games where a player kicked three or more goals in a game, Walker had 12, Fog had six, and Thilthorpe had one – a five goal game against the Power in Round Two. A better balanced distribution of goals between the three makes the Crows multi-faceted, but more than that, it makes them damn hard to defend.

Tex has been masterful over the last three seasons. With 171 goals over that period, he has bought the other tall forwards all the time they need. He has taken the heat. Now, it is time to repay the faith.

Thilthorpe needs to clunk marks. Fogarty needs to crash and bash his way into packs. And if they can start sharing this load to the point where each player has six or seven games where they register three-or-more goals, this Adelaide forward line is going to become something that gives the opposition nightmares.

The apprenticeship under the guidance of Tex Walker is coming to an end at Adelaide. Time for a couple of the big fellas to start going into business for themselves.



You know, they may not have a big star defender like Harris Andrews, or Jacob Weitering, but the Crows are stacked when it comes to capable, reliable defenders.

I am sure there were moments in 2023, as the injuries in defence started to mount, that Adelaide supporters threw their hands up in the air and wondered what they’d done to deserve it.

But a funny thing happened on the way to having no real defence. Others stepped up and started to have an impact.

Josh Worrell was a bit of a forgotten man for the Crows, but he became an important part of the back six in the second half of the season. Mitch Hinge emerged as a fantastic rebound defender, allowing Jordan Dawson the freedom to start working in the midfield more often (is there anywhere he cannot play?), and James Borlase began to show plenty playing as a key position defender over the last four games, as well.

Yes, losing Jordon Butts and Nick Murray was a bit of a crisis, but look what it unearthed when they went down!

Adelaide now possess this plethora of capable defenders that seem devoid of ego. Individually, they are not going to turn heads, but as a collective, there is something about this unit that feels as though it could be special – premierships are won by teams with selfless defences. Others will get the accolades – the forwards like Rankine, Walker, and Rachele will be hailed as match winners all throughout the season, but  defence boasting the Adelaide “No Name” defence could end up being the unsung heroes of this team in 2024.

In addition, the Crows swooped in to grab Daniel Curtin at pick eight after working a deal with GWS to move up the order. It was a bold move from Adelaide, who see Curtin becoming part of this defence over the next few years.

Know what’s funny?

Last year I wrote an article about how the Crows were stacking their forward line. The recruitment of Rankine, the form of Tex, and the emergence of Rachele as a genuine threat made it seem as though they had a real focus on bolstering the attack, but in another case of the forwards getting all the attention, this club was also building a pretty formidable defence.

Murray, Butts, Worrell, Hinge, Milera, Michalanney, Borlase, Curtin, Brodie Smith, Brayden Cook, and Chayce Jones working off half-back at times, as well… that’s  pretty bloody good pool of talent to draw from. And in a league that can be a war of attrition at times, this sort of depth is to be admired.

Now… they just have to fit them all in and keep this group together as much as possible.



Did you just read the section above? I hope so, because it kind of gives you the answer you need.

I like Tom Doedee. I like what he did when he was promoted into the team when Jake Lever flew the coop. I liked the way he started to become a leader in the team, and I liked the courage he displayed when he played the game for the Crows. That should give you plenty of information regarding the way I view him.

And it should give context as to the follwing comment.

The Crows will not miss him one bit.

They have learnt to live life without Tom Doedee and had prepared for his departure. Hell, maybe they were well aware that he was indecisive on whether he stayed or left when they made Dawson captain. Maybe the appointment of Dawson was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Doedee? I really don’t know, but what I do know is that Adelaide have been phenomenal in finding replacements for the position Doedee occupied at the club. Hell, Doedee WAS the replacement at one stage, so the fact he was eventually rated so highly is testament to the way the Crows recruit and develop their defenders.

I hope he goes well at Brisbane. I hope he plays some great footy and slots in alongside Harris Andrews and Jack Payne to make a very handy defensive trio once he is fully recovered, but I do not think anyone at Adelaide as lost a wink of sleep over his departure. They’ve simply moved on to Josh Worrell, Max Michalanney, and Mitch Hinge.

And all that is with no ounce of desrespect intended for Doedee. The Crows can just cover his loss, that’s all.



Oh yes… he’s been a bit of a tease.

Can I make a prediction without you guys laughing at me? We’re amongst friends, right?


Izak Rankine has the capacity to be a more potent small forward in 2024 than Charlie Cameron. I say this being a Cameron fan, having been appalled at the way he had been overlooked by All-Australian selectors for years despite being the best small man in the game for the past five years. He got his second AA blazer in 2023, but Rankine should be eyeing off his first one this season and it could be at the expense of Cameron.

If I were him, I’d get fitted.

Prior to his late-season injury, Rankine was on-track for his first two-goal-per-game season, but just one snag in his final two games of the season saw his average drop down to 1.8 per game.

He was everything the Crows wanted him to be in his first year with the club, and the thing is, I always believe a player needs a good 12 months to really feel part of the place and adjust to his new surroundings, new coach, and new teammates. If Rankine was able to deliver in year one as a Crow, what could he have in store in year two.

It’s a good question.

The last player to average 20 disposals and two goals per game was Stevie Johnson, way back in 2011.

Rankine has the capacity to become the next man to do just that. Working in tandem with Josh Rachele, he is able to work into the midfield, pick up plenty of the footy and sneak back inside 50 to become dangerous.

For a while, I wondered whether Rankine was going to be more sizzle than steak. He had the flashiness, had the flair, had the highlight plays about him, but he didn’t have the consistency or the defensive work ethic. We saw that swing back toward a more favourable position in 2023. Now, he just has to solidify those aspects of his game and he’ll have the balance of sizzle and steak just right.

A 50-goal season is not out of the question for him and a spot in the AA team beckons for him.


This concludes the free section of our preview. You are more than welcome to join as a member and continue to read. Cheers.


As mentioned above, the first five questions are free – the next 14-15 are for our members. Yep, I believe my work is worth twenty-five cents per day. If you don’t, that’s fine. You’re welcome to join and keep reading