A RARE season of luck with his body has allowed Greater Western Sydney's Nick Haynes to establish himself amongst the competition's best intercept defenders.
Haynes, who was the Giants' No.7 pick at their first NAB AFL Draft in 2011, will play his 100th game against Carlton at Etihad Stadium on Sundat, and he's played a major role in the club's resurgence.
MATCH PREVIEW Carlton v Greater Western Sydney
He's struggled for continuity throughout his career with a broken ankle ruining his 2014 campaign, groin issues costing him multiple games in his next two seasons, and a hamstring tendon injury interrupting his run last year.
But Haynes hasn't missed a match so far this season with his newfound love of pilates strengthening his body, and he's ranked eighth in the competition with 47 intercept marks in his 18 appearances.
The Victorian doesn't quite have a licence from coach Leon Cameron to fly for his grabs in the back half, but as a natural part of his game, his talent in the air is a huge weapon for GWS.
"I grew up playing mostly as a forward and I was just used to never spoiling to be honest, so I always go for my marks when I can," he said.
"But obviously there's a fine balance between the marking and spoiling because if you go for your mark and drop it, most times your opponent is front and square waiting for that soft drop.
"The coaching staff and the players around me give me confidence to do that and I have confidence in my judgement to pick the right moments.
"If it started going one way more than the other then I'll get pulled up, but I think more times than not I get the balance right."
Cameron said Haynes, who is widely recognised around the competition for his aerial ability, has added more elements to his game over the past couple of seasons, especially at ground level.
Haynes has averaged a career-high 4.5 rebound 50s per game this season, which ranks him second at the club behind veteran Heath Shaw.
"I think he gets undervalued for the amount of run he provides," Cameron said.
"He's a chop-out marking specialist and every club wants to have one of those players, because marking is gold when you're starting your attack (from defence).
"But his ability to cover the ground this year has been phenomenal, as has his ability to beat his man one-on-one.
"We tend to pigeonhole a player because he takes a few chop-out marks per game but if you look at guys like Haynes and (Jeremy) McGovern and (Alex) Rance, they also beat their men."
The Giants have a host of stars in their midfield group, but their backline rarely rates a mention, despite the 2018 form of Haynes and Shaw, co-captain Phil Davis and wingman-turned running defender Lachie Whitfield.
GWS went into round 20 with the third-fewest points conceded in the League.
"We're probably one of the most experienced backlines in the competition and we've been together for a long time now," Haynes said.
"I think the best thing about our backline is we're very diverse, we all bring a different skill set, and we know each other's positives and negatives.
"In the past our back seven has been a real mix throughout the year, especially with our key positions, but having that pillar in Phil and Heath Shaw back there with their experience has really helped the whole team."