AFL 2024: Adelaide coach mulls replacement for Josh Worrell

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks has called for patience with top pick Daniel Curtin, who looks unlikely to play in a third “huge game” in a row against Collingwood on Saturday.

Nicks suggested he was planning to replace the injured Josh Worrell with James Borlase or small defender Will Hamill against a Magpies forward line that will again be without its main target Brody Mihocek due to a hamstring injury.

The coach said Curtin, who was subbed out at halftime of the drawn Lions clash after conceding four goals to his direct opponent, had a tough lot as a draftee trying to establish himself in a key defensive role.

“There’s always a challenge as a young player coming in, especially a key defender or a key-position behind-the-ball player,” Nicks said.

“One small mistake and you’re exposed and everyone sees that … if you come in as a forward in the competition, you can fly under the radar a little bit.

“But as a key defender, what we’ve seen is it takes a little bit longer to develop, but we’ve been really pleased (with the attributes) Dan’s brought.

“He’s going to have his challenges – he’s a first-year player that has come in and he’s played in a couple of huge games for us … we’re really confident of what we’re going to see long term.”

Nicks said he was confident the Crows could replace the in-form Worrell, who broke his forearm shortly after Curtin was subbed out against the Lions and has been ruled out for eight to 12 weeks.

“One person’s disappointment is another person’s opportunity,” he said.

“(James) Borlase has taken his game to another level now, Will Hamill has been playing in our system for a long period of time … both of those guys are ready to step up.”

Worrell, who had played all nine games this season before his injury, signed a two-year contract extension on Wednesday that will tie him to West Lakes until the end of 2027.

“I’m obviously disappointed to be missing the next few months, but it’s not the end of the world and I’ll be back before we know it,” Worrell said.

“I’m loving my footy here and the young backline we have at the club.

“I’d love to taste the ultimate success with this group in the future, so I’m looking forward to continuing the work we’ve started.”

The Crows have been permitted to train at the MCG on Friday ahead of the Saturday afternoon clash against the Magpies that Nicks said was a “rare” opportunity.

“We love playing on the MCG – we don’t get on there very often, and we get a chance to train there on Friday as well, which is rare – we haven’t had that in the past,” he said.

“We had a couple of really exciting battles with (Collingwood) last year.

“Our boys really enjoy the challenge, and there’s nothing bigger than this one.”

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