ADELAIDE coach Don Pyke makes no apologies for performing the AFL equivalent of shooting Bambi.
Pyke has axed arguably the league’s most universally loved player, Eddie Betts.
The 32-year-old has been dumped for the first time since crossing to Adelaide for the 2014 season and will miss Saturday’s MCG fixture against his old club Carlton.
“Obviously Eddie is a much loved player and a guy I love and I love coaching,” Pyke told reporters on Friday.
“And it wasn’t an easy decision to take. But these are the decisions we need to take to give us the best chance of winning.”
Betts had been goal-less in three of his past matches, punctuated by a six-goal burst against lowly Gold Coast.
“Eddie has been frustrated with his form,” Pyke said.
“But I believe there is still a lot of good football in Eddie Betts.
“The good thing is that we aren’t seeing that deterioration in his speed, agility and movement – unfortunately it is just his form.
“The thing in sport … it seems that 30 (years-old) almost seems to be the barrier.
“For me, age is just a number … I’m not seeing with Eddie that this is the end by any means.”
Even Carlton’s caretaker coach David Teague admitted “mixed emotions” at learning of Betts’ omission.
Teague was a teammate of Betts at Carlton between 2005 and 2007 and was also Adelaide’s forward line coach for the initial three years of Betts’ transfer to the South Australian club.
“I was disappointed for our fans, everybody loves watching Eddie play football,” Teague told reporters on Friday.
“His numbers stack up quite well so in terms of (not) coaching against him, I’m pretty happy about that.”
Pyke also dropped Hugh Greenwood, casting further doubt on his future at the Crows beyond this season.
Greenwood has spoken openly about his desire to remain at Adelaide but contract negotiations are at a standstill.
The Crows will also be without defender Alex Keath, with Tyson Stengle, Patrick Wilson and ageing utility Andy Otten summoned as replacements.
The Blues rested ruckman Matthew Kreuzer and called on Andrew Phillips.
Pyke’s Crows are perched in eighth spot, a win ahead of a chasing pack, entering their away trip to face the 16th-placed Blues.
And Pyke was bemused by widespread questioning of whether Adelaide could retain its spot and reach the finals.
“I don’t understand how you talk about missing finals when we’re a game and percentage inside the eight with games ahead that are clearly winnable games, as all games are in this comp,” Pyke said.
“I find that a bit unusual.”
© AAP 2019