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Contender: Jake Carlisle

Intercept king Jake Carlisle has become the backbone of the Saints' backline. - St Kilda Saints,Jake Carlisle
Intercept king Jake Carlisle has become the backbone of the Saints' backline.
A lot of teams plan for Jake ... so that’s a pretty good indication that his best footy is quite good.
Danny Sexton, Director of Coaching

In his second season at St Kilda, key defender Jake Carlisle continued to have an enormous impact on matches at centre half back.

The intercept king seemed desperate to repay the faith the Saints showed in him, and his good form should be rewarded in the Trevor Barker Award count.

The 26-year-old’s reputation as one of the game’s best marking defenders was on show in 2018, and he was often the roadblock at which opposition attacking forays were brought to a halt.

READ: Through Jake's eyes

But while his form undoubtedly exceeded his 2017 season, the ex-Bomber’s interrupted year and consequent lack of continuity meant he couldn’t quite reach the next echelon.

A suspension, concussions and later back soreness ruled him out of a total of five matches this season, but his outstanding form could still see him feature heavily in the voting.

Carlisle’s damaging influence is not truly reflected in his numbers, but his team-high average of 7.2 intercept possessions per game speaks volumes of his ability to thwart inside 50 entries.

The backman has gone from strength to strength throughout his time in the red, white and black, but he enjoyed his best outing of 2018 against North Melbourne in Round 2.

The key back was one of only a few Saints to stand up against a rampant Kangaroos outfit on Good Friday.

Carlisle won 10 intercept possessions and racked up a season-high 11 marks and six rebound-50s, cementing his place as one of the Saints’ most damaging assets down back.

WATCH: Carlisle reflects on 'Roos

Director of Coaching Danny Sexton said Carlisle’s attributes as an intercept marker and elite ball distributor had laid the foundation for a consistent year.

“Jake’s had a strong season,” he said.

“A lot of teams plan for Jake – they try and stop his intercept marking – so that’s a pretty good indication that his best footy is quite good.

“He really helps us with his ball use as well, and we think that after an interrupted couple of seasons, Jake’s going to be really important for us going forward.”

READ: How Carlisle earned teammates' respect

Carlisle finished fourth in last year’s count, polling 119 votes in his first season at the Saints.