Back surgery in the pre-season all but ruled Jake Carlisle out of Season 2019, before an inspiring return in Round 14 helped stabilise the Saints’ injury-plagued defence.
The big-bodied backman acted as the last line of defence on many occasions, grappling with the game’s biggest forwards week after week.
While back issues prevented Carlisle from a Round 1 berth, the league shutdown due to COVID-19 allowed the key defender to fully recover and reclaim his post down back.
Returning to the senior line-up, the defensive lynchpin has been an integral asset to St Kilda's new defensive set-up.
Along with Dougal Howard and Callum Wilkie, and flanked by youngsters Hunter Clark, Nick Coffield and Ben Paton, Carlisle has helped rein in the opposition's most dangerous forwards, with a notable performance against Richmond's Tom Lynch one of his best outings for the year.
Carlisle sits in the Saints' top-two for spoils and marks this season, and has only been beaten in a handful of occasions in one-on-one contests.
Carlisle was originally selected by Essendon with pick No. 24 in the 2009 National Draft, before requesting a trade to St Kilda at the end of 2015.