No longer able to slip under the radar of AFL opponents, Adelaide’s five-goal debutant Josh Rachele has been backed to take his sharp rise to prominence in his stride.
The dynamic forward will cross paths with another of round one’s outstanding first-gamers on Saturday when he lines up against Collingwood’s son-of-a-gun Nick Daicos at the MCG.
Both players were high-end draft picks in November and can consider themselves unlucky not to have earnt a Rising Star nomination at the first time of asking.
But if they continue their hot early form, both will be firmly in the mix to win the prestigious award by season’s end.
The No.6 selection, Rachele has kept his feet on the ground since his stunning performance in Adelaide’s nailbiting loss to Fremantle.
“There hasn’t been a need to have a chat about anything,” Crows coach Matthew Nicks told reporters on Friday.
“We are in Adelaide, so he gets a fair bit of attention.
“He’s put his head down and gone to work though and I think that’s probably the most pleasing part.”
Nicks described former junior soccer star Rachele as young man who has a naturally balanced approach to football.
“You can see some players that may lose themselves a little but he’s a competitor, so he’s now looking at the next challenge and he knows it’s going to get tougher and tougher,” Nicks said.
“There’s going to be sides that come out now and you don’t slip under their guard.
“I’m not saying he did that with Freo because he did some outstanding stuff and he does compete hard.
“You’d like to think that puts him in a pretty good spot to perform again.”
Another Rachele masterclass around goal would go a long way towards Adelaide winning at the MCG for the first time in almost five years.
They face a Collingwood side buoyed by a round-one upset of St Kilda and the exuberance of young inclusions such as Daicos, Oliver Henry and Jack Ginnivan.
“They’re enjoying their footy and they play a little bit more of an attacking brand (under first-year coach Craig McRae)” Nicks said.
“They’re happy to make it a little bit messy so I think you’ll see a real scrap and a real contest, which is a really enjoyable game to watch if both teams are going at it tough.
“I know that’s what our guys love and we embrace that, it’s just a matter of where that’s being played on the ground.”
Will Hoskin-Elliott (COVID-19 protocols) and Nathan Kreueger (suspension) have come into the Collingwood side for Mason Cox (ankle) and Trent Bianco.
The Crows left out young forward Riley Thilthorpe and Wayne Milera, bringing in Lachlan Gollant, Luke Pedlar and Brayden Cook.
Adelaide skipper Rory Sloane is free to play after having his one-match suspension for alleged intentional contact to an opponent’s eye region overturned at the tribunal.