AFL legend Malcolm Blight is predicting big things from South Australia’s two teams in 2018, tipping both Adelaide and Port Adelaide to finish in the top four.
As revealed by The Advertiser on Monday, Blight has returned to Adelaide to take up a new radio role on FIVEaa alongside Kane Cornes next month. And the two-time Crows premiership coach is full of optimism for the South Australian sides.
“I can see both Adelaide teams finishing top four,” Blight said.
“And that’s not because I am back in Adelaide. I’ve said to a couple of people … you look at the progress both have made, you could actually see that (happening).”
While acknowledging “getting the jigsaw back together again” was a tough task for AFL teams, Blight was confident the minor premiership-winning Crows could bounce back from their grand final capitulation to Richmond.
“What the Adelaide Crows do and Don Pyke does now is ask ‘why did it happen?’” he told FIVEaa Breakfast.
“When they lost control of the footy around the midfield and put more and more behind the ball, they’ve got to analyse — you can’t win a game with three behind the ball unless you have freak kicks and great decision makers everywhere.
“Coaching in football is coaching to the lowest common denominator. Not everyone’s Gary Ablett, not everyone is Rory Sloane. So what you have to do is just keep it as simple as possible for those blokes who struggle a little bit under pressure. That happens, just be honest.”
Blight, who was also on the losing side of three grand finals at Geelong, said the Crows could use the failure as a driving force — or wipe the match from the players’ memory.
“You need to know your playing group, you need to know what is going on,” he said.
“I thought in the second year of the Crows premiership, I never referred to ’97 at all. And yet in 1999, as the wheels started falling off, I referred to both ’97 and ’98. You make calls.
“I think now, it’s not about what happened. Even a Bryce Gibbs coming into the team changes the team mixture, just a bit. He doesn’t want to hear about what happened last year, and the draft kids coming in, they don’t want to hear about last year. I’d ignore it, I’d move on.”
Blight, who was well known for his unconventional and sometimes controversial coaching methods, also offered his stance on the Crows’ infamous stare, praising Pyke and the team for trying something different.
“It’s fascinating, isn’t it. They were undefeated until the grand final by doing it, so you keep trying it.
“You can try those things — I was the king of trying stupid things. However, when you chase the footy and it is a metre in front of you, you don’t think about that stare. As soon as the footy is there, you just go and get the bloody thing. But if you try nothing, I think that’s poor.”
Blight was also full of praise for Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley and said he liked what the Power had done over the preseason in bolstering its stocks with the likes of Tom Rockliff, Jack Watts, Jack Trengove, Lindsay Thomas and Steven Motlop to put the club back in the premiership picture.
“I’m a real Ken Hinkley fan,” Blight, who coached Hinkley as a player at Geelong and then oversaw his coaching development at St Kilda and Gold Coast Suns, said.
“They’ve had their issues, he took over a pretty average team at the time, brought them up the ladder, and now they’re starting to come again.”
The man dubbed The Messiah said he was looking forward to going head to head with Kane Cornes for their evening radio show next year.
“It’s something I haven’t done,” he said.
“To actually come back here and have a talk with Kane — I played with his dad for a little while at North Melbourne, of course, and plenty of state games so the Cornes name is pretty strong in South Australia. Kane had a great career, played in Port’s first premiership side and he’s got an opinion which I tend to like.
“I probably won’t agree with him all the time but then he might not agree with me, but I think that makes for good fun.”