The uncompromising nature of Liam Stocker has shone through in the youngster this season, who has now recorded 12 consecutive games at the elite level.
Every week, the commentary centres around the third-year Blue improving by the week — and it’s hard to disagree when looking at his performances.
With 17 disposals (at 82 per cent efficiency), six rebound 50s and a goal against the old enemy, Stocker was a bright spark on a positive day for the Blues.
According to development coach Daniel O’Keefe, it’s that physical edge which Stocker plays with which has allowed him to have a greater impact on the contest each week.
“We love him with ball in hand, but what gets him in the game is his ability to defend both in the air but also on the ground,” O’Keefe told Carlton Coaches’ Corner.
“He’s been playing on some dangerous players, which in a way has forced him to be really tight and put himself in compete situations. He’s done that really well.
“Yes, he tackles hard, which he has continued as a defender coming from being a midfielder. But even in the air, he puts his body on the line no questions asked, and that’s where the respect comes from.
“It’s uncompromising and it’s not when it happens or when it doesn’t happen: it just always happens with Liam.”
Stocker’s maiden season at the elite level was spent across half back, while in the most recent pre-season he trained as an inside midfielder: the role he played with the Sandringham Dragons in his draft year.
A move back to defence out of necessity in Round 1 of the VFL season saw Stocker produce a best-on-ground performance, and he has been in the AFL side ever since.
O’Keefe said that Stocker’s assets did lend themselves to being a midfielder, and his versatility in both roles would hold him in good stead going forward.
“There’s no doubt that in the future we can see Liam as an inside midfielder and a really good one at that, but right now he’s been fantastic for us to play his role down back and start to play that really well,” he sad.
“Over the last couple of years, he’s been known here at the Club as a strong inside midfielder, and he’s adding running to his midfield game.
“What this year has thrown up has been that we’ve had to find a couple more defenders, and the beauty with Liam is he’s got versatility in his game.”