Adelaide defender Daniel Talia has paid tribute to coach Brenton Sanderson, after the 20-year-old claimed the AFL NAB Rising Star award.
Talia was awarded the Ron Evans Medal on Wednesday, becoming the first key defender since Melbourne's Jared Rivers in 2004 and the first Crows player in history to claim the prize after polling 43 votes out of a possible 45.
Recruited from the Calder Cannons in the 2009 National Draft, Talia has enjoyed a breakout season under the guidance of debut coach Sanderson in his third year on the senior list, playing all 22 games during the home and away season as the Crows secured a top-four berth and a home final.
And Talia spoke glowingly of rookie coach Sanderson, who has helped the Crows improve significantly from their 14th-place finish in 2011.
"Brenton Sanderson has been amazing coming in this year," Talia said.
"He is really optimistic, really young, exciting and enthusiastic and he gets along with the boys really well.
"Being the young group that we've got this year, Sando has been really good for us and for me. He was a defender as well so he knows what it's like back there and he has helped me out along the way as well.
"And I really want to thank him for his support this year because he and (assistant coach) Darren Milburn have been huge for me."
Talia also praised the club for helping him get his career off the ground, after injury cruelled his first two seasons at Football Park, limiting him to just nine games prior to this year.
"I had a couple of serious injuries early on and I learnt that you've got to work hard in rehab and that time spent in rehab really helped me build a work ethic that is going to hold up for AFL football," he said.
"I'd like to thank Adelaide, the team and all the players because they are the ones who have supported me and helped make my role a lot easier.
"I suppose winning this award really shows how far we have come this year and it's a reflection of the team rather than myself."
Talia will be a part of the back six in the qualifying final this weekend looking to nullify a Sydney forward line containing Adam Goodes and Sam Reid on the weekend.
And the Assumption College product said it was paramount the Crows made the most of their home advantage in week one.
"The season has gone okay at the moment but you get to September and you can't stop there," he said.
"This weeks came is going to be huge for the club so we've just got to do what we've done all year and stick to our processes and game."