- from afl.com.au
PHIL Walsh will make his players "jump off a jetty" if Adelaide loses the ground ball differential against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
Walsh places the highest importance on the statistic (which is similar to contested possession).
The coach was disappointed with his side's ability to win the hardball against Melbourne last weekend and focused heavily on that at training this week.
Scott Thompson's inclusion has helped the Crows on the inside but after falling short of their opposition in ground ball differential in their past two outings, Walsh said a third would mean a jump in the ocean.
"It's critical. We’ve lost the last two weeks – I told the boys we'd jump off the jetty if we lose again this week.
"[Thompson] won 16 ground balls last week. I know it was wet conditions, I'd be rapt if he could do that on Sunday against the Bulldogs.
"He makes us stronger in the contest, so that's one of Scott's great strengths. He also brings great leadership.
"(Rory) Sloane and Thompson both in your midfield, they're fantastic leaders for the club."
The Western Bulldogs' tackling ferocity this year has impressed Walsh, and so has the form of emerging Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli.
The 19-year-old has averaged 25 possessions in his two games this season and laid 20 tackles.
He reminds Walsh of Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury.
Walsh doesn't believe in tagging but said if the big-bodied midfielder started to take control of the game he'd put a "cooler" on him.
He then explained the difference between a cooler and a tagger.
"If someone really gets going and is starting to hurt you on game day, you need then to actually address that," he said.
"There's some individuals in this comp who can win a game by themselves, so you've got to be able to have some ability then to negate that - that's what I mean by a cooler.
“He mightn't start the day on that player but he's got to be able to have the ability to go on to that player and cool him."
The Crows will trim their initial squad on Friday before flying to Melbourne for Sunday's clash.
A fourth win from as many games would give the side its best start to a season since 1996.