Adelaide star Rory Sloane’s suspension won’t put a major dent in the Crows’ hopes of securing a top-two AFL finish, defender Rory Laird insists.
Sloane has accepted a one-game suspension after drawing blood when he whacked Port Adelaide’s Brad Ebert’s head with a clumsy attempt to spoil in round 22.
The ban means Sloane is ineligible for this year’s Brownlow medal and will miss Friday night’s Adelaide Oval blockbuster against West Coast.
Laird says he’s confident Sloane’s absence won’t be too detrimental in a clash which will help decide whether the second-placed Crows can lock in a home qualifying final.
“Obviously, losing Sloaney is very disappointing for the club and the playing group,” Laird said on Tuesday.
“The positive in that is that there’s a lot of players that are playing really well at SANFL level.
“There’s a lot of depth through the midfield at the moment and I’m sure someone will come in and (fill) that void that Sloaney’s left.”
Sloane could have taken his case to the tribunal but would have risked a two-game suspension, a gamble the club decided was not worth risking with the finals coming up.
The match review panel’s (MRP) decision prompted inaugural Adelaide coach Graham Cornes to speculate the AFL was conspiring against the Crows hosting a home final.
Laird said the panel should take into account players’ intentions to spoil fairly but declined to criticise the decision.
“I can’t really comment on it too much,” he said.
“I think each player will have their different views on it and the MRP made their decision on what they thought was fair.”
Laird, whose rebound off half-back has played a key part in Adelaide’s success this season, has nominated depth midfielders Mitch Grigg, Wayne Milera and Cam Ellis-Yolmen as possible replacements for Sloane.
With the Crows facing a six-day break before Friday’s game, defender Brodie Smith is unlikely to be risked after suffering a concussion in Saturday’s win over Port Adelaide.