While the grunt work is typically done by the midfield of an AFL side, the heavy lifting can often be done by the backline, especially for teams at the lower end of the ladder.

Premiership defences require potent key defenders, intercepters and running ball-users to provide an offensive threat.

Geelong were an unstoppable force out of defence last season, with De Koning and Stewart constantly preventing chaos and allowing ThuoyThou, Guthrie and others to control the ball effectively.

Melbourne were unbeatable at their best in 2021 with Lever, May, Petty and even Gawn maintaining control of the game with their aerial presence while Salem, Brayshaw and Rivers inflicted damage by foot.

This list will help you decide which team will be the immovable object in 2023 and here we look at the backlines ranked 12-7.

SEEL: Every AFL team's backline ranked PART I


1. (12th) West Coast

This side may still be living off the glory of 2018, but the premiership talent is still there in 2023, especially through the backline.

Jeremy McGovern, Elliot Yeo and Shannon Hurn have been thriving off their reputation more than their gameplay in recent seasons, but 2023 will provide a fresh start that has seemingly been absent during the last few COVID-19-struck years.

Tom Barrass has developed into one of the best key defenders in the competition after a stellar 2022 season which was capped off with a club best & fairest.

Tom Cole and Liam Duggan are reliable medium-sized defenders who also featured in that historic 2018 victory.

Beyond their premiership heroes, the Eagles have found themselves spoiled for choice in defence after an active off-season.

Jayden Hunt may prove to be a big acquisition given he has been a notable pre-season performer. Number nine draft pick Reuben Ginbey looms as a future star who will be a handy addition to this year's backline. Campbell Chesser is awaiting his opportunity to run off half-back while Brady Hough may be trialled after a positive summer and debut season.

Alex Witherden, Sam Petrevski-Seton and Harry Edwards will all fight for a spot while Rhett Bazzo, Jemaine Jones, Luke Foley, Callum Jamieson and Tyrell Dewar round out the defensive depth charts.