New club, new game plan, new teammates, new start.

It’s never easy starting over and 2021 recruit Brad Crouch has had the added complication of a turbulent beginning with a series of tough losses and inconsistent performances.

But while 2021 may not have been the ideal first season that the Ballarat local envisioned as he made the move back to his home-state of Victoria, he made it his mission to adjust to the new system and surroundings.

Those inside the club were well-aware of what the 2019 Adelaide Best-and-Fairest could bring to St Kilda and after a handful of games, Crouch started to find his feet, gathering disposals at will and returning to the form he showed at his best with the Crows.

Having grown up playing footy with and against the 27-year-old, Seb Ross knows more than most what Crouch offers to the Saints.

“Brad is one that has transitioned really smoothly into our environment coming over from Adelaide,” Ross told saints.com.au.

Seb Ross knows Brad Crouch better than most. Photo: Corey Scicluna.

“He’s slotted straight into the footy club here, and he’s a guy of great character and real work ethic.”

Now seen as a crucial cog to the St Kilda engine room, Crouch has earned the respect of his teammates through his tough approach, diving head-first into contests with reckless abandon, and more often than not, coming out with footy in hand.

Being this type of player comes with its repercussions. Injuries ravaged Crouch throughout his career at Adelaide, missing the entirety of the 2015 and 2018 seasons.

So, it’s a testament to the Ballarat native and the high performance team around him at the Saints, that he was able to play out 20 straight games this season.

“I think one thing he’s been able to do here this year is get his body right and be able to nearly play a full season,” Ross said.

“I don’t think he’s been able to do that over the course of his career too many times, and it is probably due to the way he plays.

“He’s got great, clean hands and puts on fierce pressure on the opposition, so he plays a combative role, which is to his own detriment as it hasn’t allowed him to get out onto the park, so credit to him.

“He’s really added great value to our midfield this year.”

By the numbers

Games (2021): 20
Goals (2021): 
7
Key stats:
Second for St Kilda’s total disposals (527), handballs (279), contested possessions (224), ground-ball gets (147), clearances (98), tackles (109) and effective disposals (345) 

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RD22 | Crouch coming up big with two

Brad Crouch shows another his side to his game with two important goals in the third

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His numbers certainly reflect this, with Crouch finishing the year averaging 27 disposals, five clearances and six tackles per game.

His addition to the club has also seen a promising partnership form in the midfield with skipper Jack Steele.

Both Steele and Crouch sit first and second in disposals, total clearances, tackles, contested possessions and ground ball gets for the club, with their similar styles allowing Crouch to shoulder some of the grunt work.

He may not receive the plaudits from those outside the club, but those inside of it know what he brings and that’s what most important to the hard-headed midfielder. It’s something he’ll no doubt be looking to build upon heading into season 2022.

Now, a year in, Crouch has a greater understanding of his role and the influence he has on those around him, and how he can help bring success to the club he now calls home.

With another pre-season under his belt, clearer expectations, and plenty to look forward to, we know we’re yet to see best of Brad Crouch the Saint.