Matt Merrett enjoying life as a SANFL Crow

Penola's Matt Merrett is enjoying the best of both worlds in his football this season.

A former Glenelg player who stepped away from the demanding SANFL environment to focus more on his work as an accountant in Adelaide, he has now re-entered the system in a manner much more suitable to his lifestyle.

Merrett, 25, is a member of the Adelaide Crows SANFL development squad, which means he splits his time playing SANFL with the Crows and returning home to play with Penola in the KNTFL.

The arrangement is perfect for a footballer who still wants to challenge himself at a high level, but can't commit to the heavy requirements of elite sport.

Merrett and two of his three brothers Brad, 23, and Scott, 21, all joined the development squad at the start of the pre-season. While the younger brothers have opted to return home to play all of their football at Penola this year, Matt has played most of the year for the Crows with a handful of Penola games thrown in.

Matt said playing in the SANFL team alongside Crows listed players not selected for the AFL side was a great test every week, and then playing the occasional game for his home club Penola was a great balance.

"I love to get back home and see mum and dad, family and friends, and it's awesome to play with my mates back there," he said.

"The SANFL system is very demanding, you're there four or sometimes five nights a week as well as playing, I don't have time to go back to that.

"This is a great bridging option, the top up players train with their own clubs twice a week and then we have a main session on a Wednesday night.

"So Brad and I are with them once a week and then we do our own gym around that - it's a perfect balance for us."

Merrett said the Crows development squad concept was a great way to give promising country footballers exposure at the elite level.

"Down at home I saw so many guys good enough but they just didn't live up here," he said. "No one saw them so they didn't get that opportunity.

"Scotty (for example) is a country boy through and through and probably won't ever live in the city, but he came up and played a practice match and got to play in front of the Crows coaches.

"I really am pretty passionate about it, I see it as a great opportunity and pathway."

As well as the three Merretts, others from the region to join the development squad at the start of the year included Bordertown's Billy and Maddy Hayes, and Tom Hutchesson from Millicent.

Merrett said one challenge was that it could be unsettling for players in the development squad not knowing what position or even what team they would be playing for week to week, depending on which AFL players were available or selected.

But he said the Crows communicated extremely well with players and clubs to make sure they knew as early as possible where they would be lining up.

Merrett himself feels quite safe in the SANFL team at the moment playing a set role as a second tall in defence.

A Crows spokesperson described Merrett as "a consistent performer each week.

"Given the strength of our SANFL side at the moment with so many AFL-listed players available, Matt has really impressed to keep his spot in the backline."

Merrett will be back in Penola colours for his third game in 2019 this weekend, as the Crows have the bye.

While both of his teams are flying high at the moment - both Penola and the Crows SANFL side sitting on top of the ladder - there could be some tough decisions to be made when finals arrive.

While the Crows have been very flexible with Merrett in allowing him to play with Penola on request, come finals time it will be the Crows games which take precedence if there is any clash.

At the moment, Merrett's not worrying about that, he's just "happy to get a kick" wherever he plays.