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Crows to button up on drug allegations

Date

Ashley Porter, Adelaide, and Adam Cooper

Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson said he would be extremely disappointed if his players offered "cheap shots" at their Essendon opponents relating to drug allegations during Friday night's season-opener at AAMI Stadium.

And, of course, the Crows haven't exactly avoided their share of off-season drama, with Kurt Tippett's controversial exit revealing salary cap and draft anomalies that brought the character of the club and administrators, including chief executive Steven Trigg, into question.

While Essendon captain Jobe Watson isn't concerned by what sort of reception his team gets, Sanderson called on Crows fans to show the opposition respect.

''Both clubs have had their issues in the off-season, but we will just focus on what we can control and I'm sure Essendon are going to come over and give us one hell of a game,'' he said.

"We haven't spoken about that as a group, but I would be disappointed if our players tried to unsettle Essendon with any cheap shots. I mean, that is not what footy is about.

"There will be a big crowd here … With emotion and adrenalin and excitement, sometimes you just have to bite your tongue.''

Adelaide skipper Nathan van Berlo played down the chance of the Crows players sledging their opponents given the nature of the modern game.

''People think we've got time to sledge out on the field. I tell you what, we run around and any spare second I get I'm trying to catch my breath,'' he said. ''Sledging isn't nearly as prevalent as it once was because we don't have time to recover out there.''

Van Berlo said he had sensed a rise in emotion in Adelaide this week, but attributed that to the return of football rather than ill-feeling towards Essendon.

He said the Crows had also experienced their share of setbacks since last season - notably through Tippett's departure and the subsequent suspensions imposed on Trigg and football manager Phil Harper. There was also the ban put on assistant coach Dean Bailey after the tanking probe on Melbourne.

But he expected any extra emotion to subside fairly quickly.

''You could argue both clubs have had tumultuous off-seasons and pre-seasons, so that could be enough to have a bit of emotion around the start of the game, but that might only last for five or 10 minutes,'' he said. ''After that it's just about playing footy and that's all the players want to do.''

Watson was confident midfielder David Zaharakis had overcome his latest quadriceps setback. Essendon's 2011 best and fairest has played little during the pre-season, but Watson expects him to play on Friday night.

''He played his first game last weekend in the VFL, but he's been able to do a lot of the [recent] training,'' he said.

''They've held him back to get extra work into him. I'd be very surprised if he wasn't there on Friday night.''

Sanderson said the Crows were better prepared than at the same time last year.

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