Crows cleared over AFL pre-season camp

Adelaide have been cleared of breaching any work health and safety laws during their disastrous AFL pre-season camp in 2018.

© Julian Smith/AAP PHOTOS The Adelaide Crows have been cleared of breaching any safety laws at a 2018 pre-season camp.

The Gold Coast mind training camp, held months after Adelaide’s’ shattering 2017 grand final loss to Richmond, was intended to build mental resilience and take the Crows forward.

Instead, it created ructions within their squad, with reports some players had been distressed and offended by what took place during the camp.

But the Crows confirmed on Tuesday a SafeWork SA investigation found they hadn’t breached any work health and safety laws.

“The South Australian Government’s independent workplace safety regulator has cleared the Adelaide Football Club of any wrongdoing in relation to its pre-season training camp in 2018,” the Crows said in a statement.

“SafeWork SA’s comprehensive investigation, which took more than a year to complete, found neither the club nor any other person or organisation breached any work health and safety laws during or in relation to the camp.

“The club fully co-operated with the confidential investigation, voluntarily providing all information and documentation sought by SafeWork SA. The matter is now closed.”

After the camp, the Crows fell away badly on the field, finishing 12th in 2018. 

They haven’t made the finals since, claiming the wooden spoon in 2020 and finishing 15th this season.

The fallout from the camp also led to an external review in 2019.

Then-coach Don Pyke fell on his sword at season’s end and captain Taylor Walker stepped down, while football manager Brett Burton and assistant coach Scott Camporeale were sacked.

An AFL investigation in October 2018 previously cleared Adelaide of any rule breach surrounding the camp, but said the Crows should have shown greater care.

Also on Tuesday, the Crows confirmed that highly respected fitness coach Darren Burgess will come across from premiers Melbourne.

Burgess will become Adelaide’s high performance manager after two seasons with the Demons.

He made a name for himself in the AFL with two stints at Port Adelaide and also had senior high performance roles at Premier League clubs Liverpool and Arsenal, as well as working with the Socceroos.

“To have someone of Darren’s experience and expertise is a significant addition to our Club as we look to fast track the development of our playing group,” said Crows football boss Adam Kelly.

“He has worked with elite sporting teams both in Australia and abroad for nearly two decades and has a thorough understanding of what is required for athletes to prepare and perform at a consistently high level.”

Burgess previously worked with Crows coach Matthew Nicks at Port Adelaide.

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