The former Pick 2 has long teased Melbourne fans with flashes of star ability, but has added much needed consistency to his game in 2020.
Playing as a full-time midfielder now, Petracca has quickly become Melbourne’s premier on baller. Sunday was Petracca’s best game to date, with the 24-year old collecting 29 disposals and kicking a goal.
“I just think his impact on the game has been outstanding. I think he’s the new bull, he’s gone past Dustin Martin,” Crawford told Wide World of Sports’ Full Time.
“I know I might be jumping the gun, but this year so far what he’s produced is some absolute first-class footy and the way he’s going, for me at the moment, he is my first pick if I’m putting a team together.”
Petracca has always been able to hit the scoreboard and has maintained that ability despite his move into the middle of the ground.
"I think, right now, Christian Petracca is the number one player in the AFL."@SCrawf9 has made a big call about the in-form Melbourne midfielder.
— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) July 19, 2020
Crawford believes Petracca’s strength lies in his ability to create space for others and burst away from stoppages.
“Once he gets the footy, he’s drawing up to four opponents towards him and taking them on before making good enough decisions to pass the ball on,” he said.
“He’s taking spectacular marks, laying great tackles, delivering the ball inside 50, kicking goals and dominating in the middle with Max Gawn every time he goes in there.
“He is in rare, rare form, very hard to stop at the moment. I’m sure all the coaches are scratching their head thinking how do we stop Christian Petracca.
“When he goes into the centre bounce, Max Gawn says, ‘Where do you want it’, and then even if he’s got two or three all over him, he manages to flick it out and he’s got so much space for his teammates to work into.
“He’s added another string to his bow, he’s going into the middle, he’s hitting the scoreboard, and at the moment, for me, he’s the number one player in the competition.”