After several dismal seasons languishing near the bottom, the Crows face the very real need for a bounce back up the ladder in season 2023. While they have been in a rebuild phase for a while, they're still short on the kind of quality that would see them play finals.
This has been exacerbated for years, losing key players to trade requests or serious injuries. However, all clubs have to contend with these issues and it's incumbent on the club to begin to rise back up the ladder.
Season 2022 was another to forget for the South Australians, winning just eight games and falling well short of finals. Despite it being an ordinary season, there were the occasional highlights, notably a win over crosstown rivals Port Adelaide after the siren, as well as wins over the Bulldogs, Richmond and Carlton.
Yet it also came with plenty of poor moments, losing ten out of twelve games during the season that not only ruled them out of finals, but had them in contention for a bottom-four finish. They salvaged things somewhat by winning three of their last four, but the damage was done.
It's not ideal for a club that has historically never been out of finals contention for long, having not featured in September since being smashed by the Tigers in the 2017 Grand Final. After a quick decent, they will be optimistic they are on the right track however, winning more games than the previous season every year since 2020.
Coach Matthew Nicks has been under some pressure, however he appears to have the full support of the playing group and there are some green shoots appearing via the draft and smart trade acquisitions. With that being said, they can't afford to be making up the numbers for much longer.
Strong first steps have been taken with the likes of Izak Rankine and Jordan Dawson being acquired as needs for the club, injecting class and ability. Though Rankine is yet to play a game for the Crows, there is no doubting his ability. Ben Keays has been a revelation for them, proving a bargain after being salvaged from the AFL scrapheap.
More will be expected of Jackson Hately, who is yet to fully find his feet, only featuring in 11 games in season 2022, while the loss of Paul Seedsman to concussion for another full year will be costly for the Crows.
The Crows have plenty of youth on their list, what they need are ready-made players of quality, who can step in to fill gaps in this team that are being exposed by much of the competition.
With that in mind, we take a look at four players who might fit the Adelaide wish list in a hypothetical situation where stealing a player was possible.
1. Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera
The Crows have lost valuable run and carry with Paul Seedsman missing consecutive seasons due to concussion. On top of that, Rory Laird is now far too valuable on the ball and Brodie Smith is nearing the end of his career.
There is a void to fill on the wing for the right player.
Jordan Dawson has been a revelation since he joined the club, impressing internally so much that he is now captain, yet they would always welcome more ball carriers and elite users of the ball.
While Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera may be a less glamorous choice, he is a local product and has elite foot skills. Still just 19 years of age, there are big wraps on the silky winger who will likely spend a lot of time across half-back this season as he builds experience with a view to move into the midfield in the future.
In his first season he played 17 games of AFL football, not bad for a player with such a slight build, averaging 13.6 disposals, 1.9 tackles and 4.8 marks per game. He also ranked fifth amongst rising stars for marks per game and metres gained per game.
These are traits the Crows could make use of, particularly his delivery to key forwards inside the forward 50-metre arc. While still raw, he has shown plenty and could prove to be a perfect addition to this rebuilding Adelaide outfit.