TOM Lynch works between the Crows midfield and its attack in a vital role that does not easily fit in Australian football’s traditional tags for positions.
He is a forward – but more. A “link forward” might be the best term to emphasise he is the key man who connects the Adelaide forwards when the Crows start that vital transition from defence to attack.
Too often now, the gap between the “maul” in the back half and the Crows forwards told to hold their feet in their zone is vast. And the key to quick – and damaging – ball movement to Taylor Walker, Josh Jenkins, Mitch McGovern and Eddie Betts is Lynch.
“As funny as it sounds, I play a high half-forward role and I don’t pinch too much in the midfield,” says Lynch of his work.
“That is my role in that front six … it is unique in the game. Not too many people play my role.”
The All-Australian selectors finally noted, certainly a season late, Lynch’s capabilities last month with his first nomination – among the record eight at Adelaide – for the AFL team of the year.
There is very little difference between Lynch’s numbers in 2016 and this season.
Lynch’s disposal average is the same, 20. By goals – 42 last season to 29 this year – there probably should have been an All-Australian nomination in 2016.
“I feel I have been quite consistent over the past few years,” Lynch said. “Obviously, the performance of the team helps along the way (to get recognition outside the club).
“It was eight guys nominated … It’s been a consistent couple of years, but the (All-Australian nomination) is as much as benefit of playing in a good team.”
Lynch, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Friday, this season stepped up to the Adelaide leadership group with fellow forward Betts. It is another moment that moves Lynch from the back of the room with a “reclusive” image.
“I’m enjoying it – and it is humbling because the players vote on it,” Lynch said. “And it makes it easy when you’ve got such a group to work with.
“Leadership extends beyond the leadership group here. And that is why we are in a preliminary final. If you just have six leaders at a club, you are not going to get anywhere.
“We believe the direction of the team goes beyond the leadership group – to 15, 16 guys who have really improved in that field.
“And I would not be surprised if the leadership group changes again next season because there are so many leaders being developed.”
Lynch on Friday plays his first AFL preliminary final – at Adelaide Oval against Geelong, a club that has qualified for its eighth preliminary final since its drought-breaking flag in 2007. If the Crows advance to their first grand final since 1998, Lynch will be up for his 150th AFL game with the Adelaide Football Club.
The trade from St Kilda at the end of 2011 – in a move that took Lynch from his family base in Melbourne – has become a test passed with flying colours by the Victorian.
“I’m enjoying life,” said Lynch, who in Adelaide has started his family with his wife Courtney. “Two kids; a beautiful young family. But winning also helps to be happy in life. Being around a great group of guys – and good football people – at the club makes home life easy. There is a great support network, particularly when we are living away (from Melbourne).
“Courtney is from Melbourne as well. So we have no family here, but the Crows are filling that void as our family.”
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