Adelaide coach Phil Walsh has threatened his AFL players with a fate far worse than a pre-dawn ocean swim if they lose his key statistic against arch rival Port Adelaide on Sunday.
Walsh made his players suffer through a 5am ocean swim the day after their capitulation to the Western Bulldogs last Sunday.
The swim was a reaction to the Crows losing Walsh’s vital statistic – the ground ball differential.
So what will happen if they lose it again against Port, their bitter home-town rivals?
“There will be some consequences but they might be a little bit more serious. It won’t be about swimming, it might be your place in the team,” Walsh said.
The first-year Crows coach, who rates the statistic as the most vital to winning games, said forcing his players to a pre-dawn beach swim wasn’t punishment.
“You might call it punishment,” he said.
“But I actually wanted to get them somewhere, look them in the eye, have a man conversation with them.
“So then when we came to the club, most of that had been done. So you call it punishment, I actually call it getting the troops back together.”
Whether the tactic worked will rely on the output of Adelaide’s players against a Port side fresh from a win against benchmarks Hawthorn last start.
The Power recalled explosive Robbie Gray for Sunday’s Adelaide Oval encounter, dropping Brendan Ah Chee.
Walsh summoned backman Kyle Cheney and small forward Charlie Cameron at the expense of Kyle Hartigan and Jarryd Lyons.
And while plainly stating he had a plan that can beat Port – if his players can carry it out – Walsh was wary.
“The first four games have shown when Port Adelaide can’t get their ball movement as they want it, they’re very beatable,” he said.
“But as we saw in the first quarter on the weekend against Hawthorn, when they do move the ball very quickly they’re unstoppable and one of the best teams in the competition.”
The Power slotted a stunning eight goals in a first-term blitz which floored the Hawks.