Adelaide Crows’ emerging forward Riley Thilthorpe to be sidelined for months after knee injury

Adelaide’s emerging forward Riley Thilthorpe will miss at least three months of the AFL season because of a knee injury.

Thilthorpe, who had been touted as the Crows’ standout performer in the pre-season, suffered a knee injury in the last quarter of Saturday’s trial game against West Coast.

After an initial diagnosis of a jarred knee, scans revealed Thilthorpe had torn the lateral meniscus in his left knee.

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The 21-year-old had an arthroscopy and then corrective surgery on Wednesday.

“It’s obviously very disappointing for Riley and the team,” Adelaide’s high-performance manager Darren Burgess said.

“He’s had a fantastic pre-season and had put in a lot of hard work to put himself in a strong position for the year ahead.

Thilthorpe had been in terrific form over the summer. Credit: Getty Images

“But now his focus shifts to his rehabilitation and Riley is very diligent when it comes to his training and preparation which will hold him in good stead.”

Thilthorpe will have his injured knee in a brace for the next six weeks with Burgess expecting the Crows’ highest-ever draft pick – No.2 in 2020 – to return to playing in 12 to 14 weeks.

“Given his age and that he is such a valuable, long-term player for us, we are taking a conservative view with his return to play,” Burgess said.

“(We) see him being a significant contributor for the second half of our season.”

While the news is disappointing for Thilthorpe, the Crows will be hoping another young forward (and high draft pick) can have a breakout season.

Josh Rachele says he doesn’t want to be a so-called X-factor, but his goal was just to be a consistent footballer.

“I have showed I can play at the level,” Rachele said.

“But throughout the last couple of seasons I have been a bit in and out in the back-end, so being able to be consistent and play the 22, 23 games at a high level (is important).”

Rachele said there was still a time and place for his eye-catching goal celebrations, which include mimicking soccer stars Kylian Mbappe’s crossed-arms stance and Tim Cahill’s corner-flag boxing.

“I still think there will definitely be some fun, I still love having fun with the crowd, so there will be a few little cheeky things coming out,” he said.

But Rachele craves being a dependable on-field character.

“Exactly right. We don’t want to be guys who just show moments here and there,” he said.

“I want to be that consistent AFL player that helps the team.

“We all do have strengths in the team and Izak (Rankine) and myself bring that bit of X-factor, that bit of fun to games.

“But for us the end goal is to play finals and win a premiership, so it’s going to be about balancing that.”

The 20-year-old is also pledging not to take the bait from niggling defenders after being suspended for two games last year for an off-the-ball strike against GWS.

“It’s a fine line, especially being a forward,” Rachele said.

“There’s always going to be guys who are going to get under your skin, and that is their role, to be able to do that.

“For me it’s being able to think team first and not being in my own head in those situations, and think what is best for the team and how we can win.

“Because in those situations in the past I have probably thought a bit more internally, which has showed my emotions on the field, so being able to control that.

“For me this year is just about the little things, being on top of all my recovery and diet, that was something that probably wasn’t at the 100 per cent level that I could have done the last couple of years.

“So (it’s about) being able to be really critical on myself in that sense and being consistent with that.”

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