New Adelaide coach Don Pyke has pledged to respect the legacy of the late Phil Walsh but he says the AFL club must move on from his tragic death.
Pyke was appointed head coach of the Crows on Friday, filling the vacancy left after Walsh was allegedly murdered by his son in July.
Walsh’s death stunned the football fraternity but the brave Crows battled on in his honour to make the eight and win an elimination final under the stewardship of interim coach Scott Camporeale.
“There’s a lot of good things at this footy club and a lot of those things were started by Phil,” Pyke told reporters in Adelaide on Friday.
“He came in at a period when there was change required and he started that change. And unfortunately he wasn’t able to see that through.
“So now my challenge is to come in and work with the things which are good and try to identify the things which we can still improve.
“We need to move on as a footy club … and that’s my responsibility to drive that.”
Adelaide chief executive Andrew Fagan said the club was in a “unique situation” after Walsh’s death and had chosen a unique man as their new coach, with Pyke’s diverse background in business and football making him well-placed to guide the club through uncharted territory.
“We’re a big footy club in a big football state operating in some really unique circumstances,” he said.
“Don’s got a strong record of success and achievement. It does seem to follow him where he goes.
“He’s got proven leadership skills and outstanding football intellect.”
Pyke planned to build a club culture focused on continual improvement, not only in the players but also in the coaches.
“We’re looking to create a place where people come to work energised and enthused about the prospects of getting better,” he said.
When pressed on his football philosophy, the new coach said he would implement a balanced brand of “total football”.
“That’s the three phases of the game – the contested ball, our ball movement and our team defence,” Pyke said.
The former West Coast assistant indicated he may take inspiration from the Eagles’ famed `Weagles Web’ defence, which helped the club reach this year’s grand final where they were outplayed by Hawthorn.
“We’ll certainly discuss the web, as people like to call it,” he said.
“It’s a good example of how the game changes.”
Pyke called the Crows’ senior leadership group on Thursday night to introduce himself after being told he had been selected as coach.
Taylor Walker will continue as captain, having fully vindicated Walsh’s faith in his first year in the job.
As for the hole left by departing superstar Patrick Dangerfield, Pyke said other players would need to step up to take his place.
“We recognise Patrick’s a great player. The reality is he’s not going to be here next year,” he said.
“My philosophy is based more around the style and the system than the individuals.
“We lose one soldier another one stands up.
“Generally the strength of great teams is that they’re very interchangeable with their teams.”