Forwards win memberships and defenders win Premierships, the old adage goes.
The men at the back are not only integral in keeping opposition scores down, they also provide the first line of attack.
In the AFL era, 1990 until the present day, plenty of players have called the defensive fifty home. Many of this aforementioned group have also retired champions of the game, or at least look set to.
With the off-season slowly creeping to a close, we here at Zero Hanger have attempted to create a list of every club’s best three defenders that never played together.
However, there are four rules to this exercise.
1. Three players must be selected from each club.
2. Even if they have played for multiple clubs, no player can be selected on the list of two teams.
3. All players must have played at least a portion of their careers from 1990 onwards.
4. As mentioned, no player can have played an in-season match with any of their colleagues.
For example, should Glenn Archer be selected for North Melbourne, then all of his backline buddies between 1992 and 2007 become ineligible.
With that in mind, here is our best stab.
Let us know how we have gone and which clubs you feel have fared best.
Rod Lester-Smith – 1988-91 (39 games)
In the same mould as Hughes and the Crows, Lester-Smith’s best work was arguably outside of the sunshine state.
Following All-Australian honours as a Hawk, Lester-Smith flew north to join the Bears after their inaugural 1987 season.
Despite playing in just eight senior wins in his time in Queensland, Lester-Smith’s best day as a Bear came when he captained the club’s reserves to the 1991 Premiership.
Justin Leppitsch – 1993-2006 (227 games)
As arguably the club’s greatest ever defender, Justin Leppitsch was never going to miss this list.
The redhead was taken by the Bears with the 4th pick of the 1992 Draft and more than repaid the club’s faith when he hung his boots up after 14 seasons.
Despite beginning his career as a forward, Leppitsch was shifted to defense by coach Leigh Matthews and it was here that he won three flags, three All-Australian selections and a Merrett-Murray medal in 1999.
Harris Andrews – 2015-Present (113 games)
With a pair of All-Australian selections and the vice-captaincy to his name all before his 24th Birthday, selecting Harris Andrews didn’t require a second thought.
Although a proven performer due to being thrown into the deep end early in his career, it is unlikely that we have seen either Andrews or his Lions team hit their peak.
Harris Andrews is the 2019 All Australian fullback! At 22 years old, this is the Brisbane Vice Captain's first blazer! 👊👏 pic.twitter.com/t6TaVm7w89
— Brisbane Lions (@brisbanelions) August 28, 2019