AFL News: Nicks clears the air with frustrated star, concussion payout policy imminent, Suns gun backs footy smarts


Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks has cleared the air with a frustrated Josh Rachele ahead of Thursday night’s clash against Richmond.

Rachele covets increased time in the midfield but openly queried why he wasn’t deployed more on-ball during the Crows’ 27-point loss to Hawthorn last weekend.

“It’s something that I probably don’t really know what’s going on,” Rachele said in his paid midweek spot with the Nine Network.

“I’ll sit with the coaches and ask questions … about ‘how can I inject myself in the game’ when I’m not getting too much of the ball.”

Rachele, a precocious talent in his third season, had just 11 disposals against the Hawks and was used at only two centre bounces.

Nicks and the 21-year-old met in the lead-up to the 14th-placed Crows’ encounter with the 17th-placed Tigers at Adelaide Oval.

“Josh and I have had a really good chat this week,” Nicks said.

WATCH | Josh Rachele addresses headlines he made during the week.

— FIVEAA (@1395FIVEAA) June 4, 2024

“Off the back of poor performance sometimes as a team, what can happen is some frustration. And we worked our way through that.”

Nicks rated the loss to Hawthorn as his club’s worst display of a season which has returned only four wins.

But he said rather than dwell on the defeat, it was crucial the Crows reviewed their shortcomings and then rapidly switch focus to playing Richmond.

“The best part about the week so far … not at one point has there been any blame,” he said.

“We believe our form this season has been on the improve … (but) we haven’t been getting the outcomes we’re after and that’s why we’re sitting where we are at the moment on the ladder.

“We have got a lot of work to do but we’re halfway through the year and we get a chance now to bounce back.”

Nicks has made four changes to his line-up with evergreen midfielder Matt Crouch ruled out for the season due to shoulder surgery, Taylor Walker and Brayden Cook also unavailable due to injury and ruckman Reilly O’Brien dropped.

The Crows have called up Kieran Strachan for his sixth AFL game to replace O’Brien, Ned McHenry and Will Hamill also return while Billy Dowling will make his senior debut.

The Tigers have been strengthened by the return of Tim Taranto from a broken wrist, along with Dion Prestia (rested) and Shai Bolton (concussion), while Jacob Koschitzke has been recalled.

Richmond great Dustin Martin has been rested, injured duo Marlon Pickett (calf) and Mykelti Lefau (knee) are sidelined and Kaleb Smith has been axed.

(with AAP)

Josh Rachele celebrates a goal. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

AFL concussion payout policy imminent

The AFL are set to launch an official, standardised concussion payout policy in coming weeks, according to reports.

Calls for such a policy have been growing louder with a spate of players forced into medical retirement due to heavy head knocks, most famously former Melbourne star Angus Brayshaw just days out from the start of the 2024 season.

Brayshaw retired with five years and around $3 million left on his bumper long-term contract, with debate raging over how much of that figure should remain on Melbourne’s salary cap.

According to News Corp journalist Jay Clark on Fox Footy’s Midweek Tackle, the payout system will be a scaled one, with money determined both by length of career and amount of concussions, as well as other factors.

“If you’re a player who’s had three or four concussions, that’s a bit of a red flag. If you retire post that, the money you get outside of the cap will be less,” Clark said.

“However, if you’ve never had a concussion in your life and sign a bumper contract, then that is quite a surprise and unexpected, so the bulk of that would come out of the cap.

“So, it’s the age, medical history and potentially the length of contract that’s going to be pumped into this formula that’s going to work out how much relief that clubs get outside of the salary cap.

“Talking to clubs, if there’s five years remaining on the deal, maybe 80 per cent in year one counts outside the cap, 60 per cent year two, 40 per cent year three, scaled down, pending those factors.

“Clubs are really clear – they want a consistent framework, so it’s standardized for every player.

“It basically comes down to risk: if clubs are going to take massive risk on a player who has a concussion history, there’s not going to be a lot of sympathy for them.”

However, according to fellow panellist and News Corp reporter Sam Landsberger, the proposed system is unfairly weighted against players with a history of concussion.

“Is that fair?” Landsberger asked.

“If you’re a player who puts his head over the ball and through no fault of his own has had a couple of serious concussions, and we’re in a climate where we want to encourage players to document concussions, we know that a certain percentage of players hide their concussions every year… is that the right move, to be handicapping their income?”

Aaron Naughton of the Bulldogs lays on the ground concussed. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

‘I’m more than that’: Suns gun hits back at ‘athletic’ stereotype

Well aware of his role inspiring kids from diverse communities, Gold Coast gun Mac Andrew says South Sudanese AFL players are as much brain as they are brawn.

There’s much more to South Sudanese players in the AFL than their athleticism, Mac Andrew insists.

When people think of the Gold Coast defender, Andrew knows they reflect first on his strength and agility.

The 20-year-old made headlines when he restricted Carlton spearhead Charlie Curnow to five disposals and two behinds over a half in late May, before taking it to Essendon’s Peter Wright last time out.

Down the east coast on the same day Andrew made light work of Cameron, fellow South Sudanese defender Leek Aleer became an overnight celebrity after he spectacularly jumped over the heads of Geelong’s Tyson Stengle and Tom Hawkins to secure a four-point win for Greater Western Sydney.

Fancy footwork, well-crafted kicks and boldness in the air – as shown by Hawthorn’s Mabior Chol and Changkuoth Jiath, Port Adelaide’s Aliir Aliir or the Western Bulldogs’ Buku Khamis – are qualities South Sudanese players are often celebrated for. 

But Andrew believes a massive part of their game is being overlooked: their intelligence.

“The commentary around myself when I play is, ‘Oh, Mac is just really athletic’ but I’m more than that,” Andrew told AAP.

“I’m a really smart football player. I can read the game pretty well, I’ve always been a pretty skilful player. 

“Growing up, I wasn’t the tallest player, so I went from a range of positions. 

“I can play across all three lines and have a really good understanding of where to play and how to play that role. 

“Every time I go out there – no matter who the matchup is, no matter what the occasion is – I feel like I can go out there, rise to the occasion and be better than my opponent.”

Born in Egypt to South Sudanese parents before moving to Victoria as a baby, Andrew can’t remember the first time he picked up a Sherrin.

As far as he’s concerned, he’s always had one in his hand.

Although his mother may not have understood the intricacies of Australian rules football – with both parents adamant about a backup plan – Andrew was never shy about his aspirations.

Mac Andrew takes a mark. (Photo by Albert Perez/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Seeing Majak Daw launch into the air for North Melbourne as a kid made his dream feel more achievable.

“We had Sudanese pioneers coming up when we were growing up, like Majak Daw, and other African players like Joel Wilkinson who was at the Suns and Heritier Lumumba who was at Collingwood,” Andrew said.

“Those guys really paved the way. We have a role now to inspire other kids to pick up the game of football.

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“We’ve done our job (in getting to the AFL) but I’ve got little brothers that I really want to inspire to play football.”

Outside footy, Andrew boasts a healthy shoe collection.

He’s split between the Air Jordan Fragments and the Air Jordan Black Cats as his favourites, although he is keen on snatching up a pair of the Sean Wotherspoon 97s.

“I always take a suitcase back home and I come back with a couple more shoes than I left with,” Andrew said.

“I really like just dressing up and putting myself out there, putting my image out there a little bit.”

(with AAP)

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