Tex was a little frustrated about not getting a touch midway through the opening quarter but made the most of it with a goal…
Injuries can often be a blessing in disguise. Adelaide Crows youngster Wayne Milera is one player to have benefited from the injury of a senior teammate in season 2018.
With Brodie Smith having missed a large chunk of the season due to the ACL injury he suffered during last year’s final series, Milera has stepped into his place.
Now in his third season of football, Milera has turned from small pressure forward into a small defender with the ability to break the lines out of the back half.
After debuting during the 2016 season, Milera played eight games and kicking five goals, then played 16 games in 2017.
As it stands, Milera has now played 16 games in 2018, with three rounds remaining, taking his career tally to 40 as he becomes fully accustomed to the AFL environment on and off the field.
After being omitted from Adelaide’s finals side last season, Milera has used the personal blow to his advantage having taken his game to another level. Thus far in 2018, the 20-year-old has averaged a career-high 18.9 disposals across his 16 matches, having fallen below 15 disposals on three occasions.
Most impressively, he has found some of the strongest form of his career in the last five matches, where he has failed to drop below 20 disposals.
Arguably the most impressive display came just over a week ago, when the Crows fell just short of a huge victory against Melbourne. The 11th pick from the 2015 national draft finished with 26 disposals and seven marks that day.
While his individual numbers stood out, it was his field kicking and ability to weave in and out of traffic which caught the eye during the match. On several occasions, Milera repelled the Dees’ attack to get the ball moving forward in less than ideal conditions, particularly during the second half.
His performance marked a high point in a season during which he has averaged career-high contested possessions (6.4), uncontested possessions (12.8) and tackles (2.4).
With the likes of Smith and Paul Seedsman having already established their careers at the top level, Milera may well transform the shape of Adelaide’s defence.
With another pre-season under his belt, he may well become a star of the competition in 2019.