STAR MIDFIELDERS have always attracted attention from opposition coaches with players tasked with limiting their impact on games.
But why don't attacking defenders pivotal their team's thrusts forward get the same attention?
These running machines are the AFL equivalent of quarterbacks and can be critical to cutting through zone defences, gaining metres and starting scoring chains.
Every club would have at least one dedicated player whose task it is to defend first and then punish their opponents on the counterattack or link up with teammates down field.
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Earlier this season St Kilda sent skipper Jarryn Geary to Carlton counterpart Sam Docherty after the Blues co-captain destroyed Essendon the week before.
Docherty had a game-high 32 disposals in the Blues' win over Essendon back in June, and was shaping to be a crucial cog for the Saints to stop.
Geary was sent to Docherty and restricted him to just 10 disposals in the first three quarters while he kicked two goals himself to help set up the win.
Why is this not done more often though?
Jake Lloyd, who is closing in as an All-Australian lock in 2020, is one of the top attacking defenders in the game and is regularly given free space to create.
The Swans star is third for disposals with only midfielders Lachie Neale and Jack Macrae ahead of him. He is also fifth for metres gained.
Fellow defenders in Gold Coast's Jack Lukosius, Richmond's Jayden Short and Adelaide's Brodie Smith are number one, two and three in that stat.
Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield (fourth) and Essendon's Zach Merrett (eighth) are the sole midfielders in the top 10.
Caleb Daniel is another example of how effective an attacking defender can be. At 168cm and 75 kilograms he is not the size for a defender but more than makes up for that with ball in hand.
The pint-sized Bulldog is 24th for disposals, 22nd for metres gained and rarely misses a target by foot.
On Sunday against Hawthorn the 2016 premiership star played his best game of the year and showed just how damaging an attacking defender can be.
He finished with 28 disposals at 79 per cent, eight intercept possessions, one goal, two score involvements, 546 metres gained and seven inside 50s.
A staggering 21 of those touches were uncontested and kicks, highlighting his role as the Bulldogs' quarterback.
And AFL commentators are taking notice with AFL.com.au's Damien Barrett and Matthew Lloyd praising his efforts against the Hawks
"His kicking skills either side of his body is exquisite but it's also his decision making which has elevated him into the elite this year," Barrett said on Monday.
Lloyd said Hawthorn failed in its attempts to curtail Daniel, who is All-Australian lock in the Essendon legend's mind.
But a few failed attempts should not stop coaches seriously considering shutting down attacking defenders come finals time as a lockdown forward could do just as much damage as their key forward teammate.
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