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‘I knew that was the outside noise’: Marinoff isn’t surprised Adelaide’s still an AFLW contender

Have a gander at the AFLW table, and you’ll see the Adelaide Crows there, equal on points at the top.

They are the three-time premiers, and currently reigning.

In the constantly evolving world of women’s footy, one thing doesn’t seem to change: the Adelaide Crows are almost always contenders.

Except this off-season, there was a big change at the Crows as a host of players left including two-time league best and fairest and captain Erin Phillips. 

Phillips is now captaining Port Adelaide, but like most expansion teams, the Power have struggled badly this season.

Losing arguably your best player to your cross-town rivals would knock the wind out of most teams. 

But the Crows have hardly missed a beat and star midfielder Ebony Marinoff is not surprised. 

“If I’m going to be honest, no [I’m not surprised],” Marinoff told The W with Sharni and Sam podcast.

“To put it blankly, when everyone was like ‘no Erin Phillips, no Crows’, I knew that was the outside noise.

“But I knew that we had incredible depth.”

Erin Phillips moved to captain Port Adelaide, after six glittering seasons with the Crows.(Getty Images: Sarah Reed)

Of course, there was still an adjustment period and with a grand final rematch against the powerhouse Demons in round one — a game they lost — the Crows were forced to adjust quickly.

“The reality is, we probably took a couple of weeks to find that forward connect,” Marinoff said.

“I mean Erin Phillips was once our forward connect, and our captain.

“Erin was a pretty bloody good player for us, a match-winner, and could turn a game on one kick, or one handball, or one speccy.

“But yeah, we’ve found our feet now.”

Erin Phillips and Ebony Marinoff pose with the AFLW premiership trophy after winning in 2022
Adelaide won the AFLW premiership last season, with Phillips and Marinoff both starring.(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Adelaide had more stars than just Philips and Marinoff said this season they have stepped up.

“Now Chelsea Randall is leading the way in that mid-forward role,” she said.

“I’m sure, even with Erin, if you asked her, with her time here she was only as good as the people around her as well, and we bloody enjoyed our time playing with Erin, and we had a lot of success.”

‘I had great faith in our program’

Four other players left in the off-season along with Phillips.

“The likes of Justine Mules, who was an exceptional player for us, probably bloody underrated to be honest,” Marinoff said.

“Her pressure and the energy she brought is irreplaceable, but it gives someone else the opportunity to bring something unique and different.

Marijana Rajcic, Chelsea Randall, Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff of the Crows celebrate their win over Port
Marijana Rajcic, Chelsea Randall, Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff have all stepped up to fill the gap left by Phillips.(James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“I had great faith in our program, that we had girls that were willing to put in the work and show Doc [head coach Matthew Clarke] and the coaches that they were ready to put their hand up and say ‘pick me’.”

Marinoff is the leading disposal-getter in the AFLW this season, has gained more metres than any other player, and ranks second in the tackle count.

The four-time All-Australian is a force to be reckoned with in the Crows midfield, alongside Anne Hatchard, and she is a target for vigilant tagging in every game.

“I’ve been tagged many times in my career, and I actually have been the past couple of weeks as well,” Marinoff said.

“The biggest thing for me, is just making sure I’m at my fittest.

“I do a mountain of work in the pre-pre-season to make sure that when I get to pre-season, I’m in the right physical condition.

“I do all the running and the strength component a lot more, and then when I come into pre-season, I can hone my skills and get myself up to scratch with ball in hand.

“Some of the girls, and even some of the men, if they don’t come to pre-season physically fit, they play catch-up.”

Ebony Marinoff of the Crows bursts through a tackle during an Adelaide Crows AFLW training session
Marinoff says she trains during the “pre-pre-season” to ensure she’s at peak physical condition heading into the season proper.(Photo by Mark Brake/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

‘We’re here to win premierships’

Marinoff and the Crows are not short on ambition; the winning culture at Adelaide is practically chiselled onto the walls of the club. 

“We go into every pre-season setting out the win the premiership,” Marinoff said.

“The competitive person that I am, I love that I’ve found myself within a football club and within a team that settles for nothing less.

“That’s something we embed on our girls, whether you’re a first year, a second year, or a sixth year; we’re here to win premierships.”

Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff of Adelaide embrace
Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff plan on leading Adelaide to another flag in 2022.(Getty Images: Mark Brake)

On October 14, Marinoff and the Crows take on the Brisbane Lions, who sit alongside them at the top of the ladder — a possible grand final preview.

“They have been amazing to watch,” Marinoff said.

“They’re just quick, they’ve got depth … I think it’s going to be won in the midfield.”

In a battle of the midfield, any side that has Ebony Marinoff leading theirs has the edge.

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