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Steve Larkin

Short AFLW preseason suits Crows: Hatchard

Adelaide star Anne Hatchard says the short gap between AFLW seasons this year should help the Crows. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Adelaide stalwart Anne Hatchard says the truncated AFLW pre-season has worked in favour of the Crows' flag defence.

Hatchard and her reigning champions open their campaign with a grand final re-match against Melbourne on Friday night.

Adelaide's third premiership was won on April 9, and the late August starting date for the fresh season - as league bosses moved the competition to spring - was only announced on July 4.

Triple premiership star Hatchard and her Crows teammates had little time to dwell on their recent glory.

"With less break, you kept your fitness a bit more so it helped getting into the pre-season," Hatchard told reporters on Monday.

"But definitely for the expansion clubs, they have had less time to bond together as a group so that will be interesting coming into the season."

Essendon, Hawthorn, Sydney and Port Adelaide have been added to the competition for the new season as Hatchard's Crows plot to extend their dynasty.

The Crows have won three of five premierships and were beaten grand finalists in another season.

But megastar forward Erin Phillips has left the Crows, taking fellow premiership heroes Ange Foley and Justine Mules with her to Port Adelaide.

"We have lost some players," said Hatchard, who was best afield in Adelaide's grand final win over the Demons in April.

"But each year you lose some players and you bring new ones in.

"There are some key players who have gone. But there's girls stepping up this pre-season. I think we will be right.

"We have built such a good culture here, it showed with how many girls we have still got here.

"It's really exciting to have most of our group together and bring through some new girls as well. It's exciting keeping it fresh."

While Hatchard has lost high-profile teammates to Port, she believes the Power's entrance will be another boost for AFLW in South Australia.

"To have to South Australian teams in the competition now is super exciting," she said.

"With all that talent that is coming through in South Australia, it had meant a lot of the girls had to go interstate to play."

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