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The curious case of Josh Jenkins

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Roar Guru
9th May, 2019
18
1223 Reads

When it comes to maligned players in the AFL, Josh Jenkins is somewhere near the top of the list.

The key forward has played 20 games or more every year since 2014 to be an important contributor for Adelaide while averaging two goals a game in the process.

Not a bad return for someone who arrived from Essendon along with pick 41 in exchange for pick 31 at the end of 2011.

But an underwhelming start to the 2019 season saw the big man dropped after the Round 4 clash with North Melbourne, and the 30-year-old has had to ply his trade in the SANFL since.

Since this demotion, his form has not been at a level that warrants a return to AFL ranks.

Jenkins made a modest contribution in the last outing against Norwood, gathering 14 disposals, four hit-outs and kicking a solitary point.

This week, the Crow revealed he has been battling an ankle injury that will see him rested this weekend with Adelaide having a bye in the SANFL.

So why does Josh Jenkins divide opinion so much?

We have all heard the ‘Joe the goose’ references made about the forward who impacts the scoreboard within close proximity to goal.

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A high level work rate enables Jenkins to get on the end of the chain to kick some of these goals that many others do not. That should be a tick to his name and not something that warrants constant condemnation.

Josh Jenkins

(Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Being called soft is one of the harshest remarks that can be directed at a footballer and Jenkins has copped this tag on more than one occasion.

The social media commentary after the 2017 grand final was scathing, with personal insults and sledges that well and truly crossed the line.

When you are 200 centimetres tall and weigh over 100 kilograms, the average footy fan expect certain traits in a player. Not all key forwards play in the commanding bash-and-crash Jonathan Brown manner.

This sentiment is something Jenkins believes has led to some of the unjust criticism that has been directed his way.

“I think I take a little unfair criticism because I’m built like a key forward,” he told ESPN.

“But I run and kick a lot of goals from different positions, and different ways, as opposed to pack marks.”

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Many players go through a form slump at one stage or another in their career. Josh Jenkins has a fight on his hands to get back into the Crows’ line-up with his replacement Elliott Himmelberg performing solidly.

While the outlook may appear bleak right now, an opportunity will arise when his form improves.

The 30-year-old is still highly rated within the four walls of Adelaide.

The Victorian would not have been elevated to the leadership group for the current season if this was not the case.

This week skipper Taylor Walker passionately defended his heavily scrutinised team-mate.

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“JJ is working his butt off to get back into the side,” the captain told journalists.

“He’s a valuable member of our football club so if we can get him in as soon as we can, he is going to help our footy club go forward”

A CV of 140 AFL games and a return of 278 goals is a record not to be dismissed. It stacks up favourably with many quality forwards.

It might not be a popular view, but Josh Jenkins still has plenty to offer at AFL level this season and beyond – whether it is at the Adelaide Crows where he is contracted until the end of 2021, or elsewhere.