David Mackay of the Adelaide Crows.
David Mackay of the Adelaide Crows. Michael Willson/AFL Media

Phil Walsh still looms large for Crows players

PHIL Walsh may be gone, but he certainly hasn't been forgotten at Adelaide.

Walsh was stabbed to death at his home by his son Cy in 2015, but midfielder David Mackay says the former coach's legacy certainly lives on at the Crows, who have made an unbeaten start to the season under new coach Don Pyke.

Now among the premiership favourites, the Crows have gone from strength to strength while overcoming adversity, not least of all dealing with the loss of their mentor and friend.

"Phil laid the foundation for where the footy club is right at the moment," Mackay told News Regional Media ahead of the Crows' visit to the Gold Coast tomorrow night.

"I suppose when Don came in, it was a unique situation. He had to bring his own philosophies, his own way of coaching, and he certainly did that ... with his nous and tactics.

"But just the standards at our footy club, how we want to be seen, our work ethic, these are the sorts of things that Phil instilled in us, and that's something that will hopefully stay within this footy club for a long time.

"The resilience of the group - I've got no doubt that is the contributing factor to allowing us to perform the way we are."

While far less heartbreaking, the Crows have also endured the departures of several stars in recent seasons, such as Jack Gunston, Phil Davis, Kurt Tippett, Bernie Vince and Patrick Dangerfield.

"In terms of the football side of things, we've taken a few hits ... lost some quality," Mackay said.

"But full credit to our recruitment team and our development team."

 

Former Adelaide Crows coach Phil Walsh.
Former Adelaide Crows coach Phil Walsh. JOE CASTRO

While Eddie Betts was added as an established star from Carlton, the three Rorys - Laird, Atkins and Sloane - are among those Crows to have thrived out of the shadow of Dangerfield.

"We rely on an even contribution ... everyone's doing their bit," Mackay said.

Mackay, a Victorian who is in into his ninth season at Adelaide, said it was a "great football club to be a part of, we just haven't achieved what we wanted to achieve in that time".

He said they saw 2016 as an "opportunity missed".

Second going into the final round, the Crows dropped a winnable home game against West Coast to lose the double chance and eventually bowed out in a cut-throat semi-final against Sydney.

"Our contested ball stuff just let us down right at the end of the season," Mackay said.

The Crows are now No.1 for hard-ball gets, having put an emphasis on that area during the pre-season.

"Our best footy is capable of beating any side in the competition, but there's a lot of water to go under the bridge," he said.

"At the moment it's about winning enough games to be able to qualify."

They will be aiming for a fifth straight win to start the season at Carrara against the Suns, who have won two in a row on the back of Gary Ablett, Tom Lynch and co.

"We're not underestimating them at all, seeing the talent they have in their team," Mackay said.

"We're expecting a really big challenge and we're going to need to be at our best."

News Corp Australia


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