Going back to move forward: How selection squeeze benefited young Crow

CHELSEA Biddell has reinvented herself as an AFLW footballer this year, and it is paying off, as Adelaide looks toward a preliminary final against Fremantle on Saturday afternoon. 

Never having played in a final herself, Biddell will line up in the Crows' backline on Adelaide Oval as her side vies for its fourth Grand Final appearance in six seasons. 

Selected as a forward at pick No.102 in the 2019 NAB AFLW Draft, Biddell played all six matches of the 2020 season in attack, but with Adelaide's list depth she struggled to play consistent games last year, hitting the park just four times out of a possible 11 games. 

Adelaide's Rachelle Martin, Chelsea Biddell and Zoe Prowse celebrate after beating St Kilda in R10, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

"We have a pretty handy forward line, so it's sort of hard to get in there, but I had a bit of a chat to Doc [head coach Matthew Clarke] in the preseason. He just said 'we want to get you some opportunity where we can, and that might mean we might need to switch it up a little but," Biddell told womens.afl

"I started giving it a crack and training in the backline and eventually got there. It's been pretty fun back there, and we have a good group back there as well." 

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Biddell has played every game for the Crows in defence this year, as part of the stingiest backline in AFLW history. Adelaide has conceded an average of just 18.7 points per game, the first time a side has kept this metric below 20 points across a whole season. 

From getting her start in attack, Biddell understands her opponents well, which in turn helps her intercept the ball — the backbone of Adelaide's game style this season. 

Adelaide's Chelsea Biddell evades a tackle from Fremantle's Amy Franklin during round eight, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"I understand leading patterns a lot more because I played forward, so I think that definitely comes in handy," Biddell said. 

"But I just think in general, it's about reading the play and understanding where the ball is going to go next. It makes it a lot easier to be proactive and intercept where you can." 

Biddell herself is averaging 5.3 intercepts and 9.4 disposals per game this season - both career highs - while Adelaide leads the competition for intercepts with 61.7 per game. 

Turning attention toward the game at hand, Biddell admits that the pain of last year's Grand Final loss combined with looming expansion - that despite having a "tight knit group" will no doubt impact the Crows - means they are hellbent on enjoying premiership victory again. 

"We're just going to continue to focus on how we play and I know that if we play the way we have been all year, then we will definitely be in with a real chance on Saturday," Biddell said.

"We understand and we know that the team's probably not going to be exactly the same next year, but we're just focusing on this year at the moment and seeing if we can get the job done."  

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