ADELAIDE coach Don Pyke says ruckman Reilly O’Brien has earnt his spot in the side, keeping him ahead of experienced big man Sam Jacobs for Thursday night’s top-eight encounter with Richmond at Adelaide Oval.
O’Brien’s work at ground level was superb in last Saturday night’s 21-point win against Greater Western Sydney, finishing with 17 disposals, nine clearances, six Inside 50s and 29 hitouts.
He also picked up eight votes in the AFL Coaches’ Association awards, sharing best on ground honours with Giants midfielder Tim Taranto.
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O’Brien, 23, has played 10 of his 12 AFL games this season, getting his chance when Jacobs went down with a knee injury early on.
Jacobs has played the past two games in the SANFL, but the 31-year-old, who has played 198 games for the Crows, will have to bide his time in the reserves for a bit longer.
“‘ROB’ was pretty good last week, it’s pretty hard to change that up at this point, I would’ve thought,” Pyke said.
“‘ROB’s’ come in and performed really strongly over those 10 weeks.
“Last week, he was very good and Sauce was very good in the SANFL, so it’s a good spot to be in.
“We’ve got two guys competing for a spot.
“I know Sauce is a competitor as well, so he’ll be scratching away trying to get his spot back.”
The Crows won’t be under-estimating the Tigers, with the two sides sitting fifth and seventh on the ladder respectively with identical 7-5 win-loss records.
But while Adelaide has won its past two games, Richmond is going in the other direction after defeats to North Melbourne and ladder leaders Geelong.
Pyke said he wouldn’t be taking the wounded Tigers lightly.
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“They’re a dangerous team and we know what they’re capable of,” Pyke said.
“You look through their midfield with (Dion) Prestia, (Trent) Cotchin, (Dustin) Martin, you’ve got some high-quality players, along with (Shane) Edwards off half-back and (Bachar) Houli.
“They sit level with us on the ladder for a reason.
“They had a good win over here earlier in the year against Port (Adelaide), so I’m sure they will come over keen to atone for a couple of poor performances.
“For us, we’ve won a couple, but there’s no guarantees.
“We’ve got to start at zero on Thursday night and earn our stripes.”
Pyke said all of his players had pulled up well ahead of their five-day turnaround.