Forgotten Adelaide defender Kyle Cheney is keen to regain his spot in the Crows’ back six after a disappointing 2017 season rued by injuries.
The 28-year old will line up for the Crows in the inaugural AFLX tournament at Hindmarsh Stadium on Thursday night, in his first AFL appearance since the 2016 finals series.
He played every game in the 2016 season before succumbing to a groin injury, followed by nagging hamstring injuries which kept him sidelined for most of last year.
Jake Lever’s departure to Melbourne has created an opening in the Crows’ defence, with Cheney, veteran Andy Otten and 2015 first-round draft pick Tom Doedee dubbed as the likely replacements.
Otten resurrected his career last year as a handy swingman for Dom Pyke’s side, while the 20-year old Doedee finished runner up in the Adelaide State League’s Club Champion award.
“I had a pretty frustrating year last year, but I’m super excited to get out there and play AFLX against some genuine opposition, not just my teammates,” Cheney said.
“I’ve done a fair chunk of the pre-season now.
“I missed the first bit, but I’m up and going and available for selection.”
Cheeney signed a one-year contract extension at the end of last year, with the upcoming season shaping as a make or break year for him. Lever’s exit from the club may well have extended his stay.
“I just want to get back out and enjoy footy,” he said.
“I was lucky enough to get another 12 months at the end of last year.
“Nothing’s changed in terms of my role, I’m fit and available for selection.”
Pyke has turned to youth for the AFLX tournament, naming Doedee, Elliot Himmelberg, Matt Signorello, Ben Davis and Paul Hunter, and rookies Patrick Wilson and Lachie Murphy for their maiden senior appearances for the club. Harry Dear previously featured in the 2016 pre-season competition.
First-year draft pick Joran Gallucci and utility Alex Keath, who both had promising debut seasons in 2017, will also appear in the shortened AFL format to stake their claim for a round one appearance.
Otten and Jake Kelly are the only two members from last year’s losing Grand Final side to be picked for the AFLX tournament.
“It is a young squad and it’s a good opportunity for those blokes to show what they’ve got,” Cheney said.
“Whether it’s AFLX or JLT, the main priority is round one of the season proper.
“It’s still pre-season, so we’ll be managing our loads accordingly.
“Anyone that gets the opportunity to run out there Thursday night is playing for the Crows and playing to win.”