Crows coach backs Sloane to find AFL form

Star Adelaide midfielder Rory Sloane is being backed by his coach to shrug off Hawthorn’s taggers in Thursday night’s AFL match.

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Sloane started the season in stunning form, bolting into Brownlow medal favouritism.

But rival clubs have applied hard tags to the damaging onballer, limiting the star Crow in the past five games.

Sloane can expect similar tactics from Hawthorn when the 17th-placed Hawks meet the ladder-leaders at Adelaide Oval.

“He’s handling it well. He’s a professional and he’s a great player,” Adelaide coach Don Pyke said of his vice-captain.

“There’s some options for Rory there but I think that he will work his way though it – and I will back him in to do that.”

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said he would be asking for a team approach to shutting down the Adelaide playmaker.

“We quite often take the approach that it’s about team defence and your whole team being able to look after players like that,” Clarkson said.

“That will probably be the approach again but needless to say he’s a pretty special player for them.

“Particularly in the 18 months since Paddy (Dangerfield) has gone to Geelong, Rory has really stepped up with both a leadership role as well as an on-field role in terms of his importance.

“We need to be mindful he doesn’t have a big influence on the game but we’re hoping we won’t have to use just one bloke to nullify for the whole game.”

The Crows (nine wins, three losses) enter the fixture as hot favourites to down the struggling Hawks.

But Pyke was expecting the unexpected from Clarkson after both teams reset during last weekend’s bye.

“We may expect they do something slightly different coming off their first 12 games review, and we have obviously got to prepare for that,” Pyke said, citing the threats posted by Luke Hodge, Grant Birchall and Luke Breust.

“They are very capable. The comp is so even, they are 4-8 and sitting in 17th but they are really two games out of the eight.”