CLUBS falling over themselves to winkle Jake Lever out of Adelaide shows just how important intercept marking has become in the modern game.
The out-of-contract playmaker is believed to be weighing up several lucrative offers to return home to Victoria, but for the clubs that miss out on Lever's prized signature, Dandenong Stingray Oscar Clavarino should be a very attractive plan B.
Standing at 195cm, Clavarino will be one of the most sought-after key defensive prospects in November's NAB AFL Draft, with his form this season drawing comparisons with Lever's output at the same age.
The similarities don't end there, as they both captained sides at the Under 18 championships and are graduates of the AFL Academy.
The Crows swooped on Lever with pick 15 back in 2014, and Clavarino's knack of taking intercept marks should see him taken late in the first round of this year's draft.
"I like to think that Jake is someone that is similar to the way I play, because the forward also has a role to stop him being damaging," Clavarino told AFL.com.au.
"It's been good come up against the best forwards, and that's when I play some of my best footy.
"Hopefully I can develop, put on some size and become that player that takes the opposition's best key forward at AFL level.
"I back myself to take a few marks, and I take a fair bit of confidence from that."
Matthew Lloyd is a great admirer of what Clavarino can offer at the highest level, with the Essendon great mentoring him since the age of 16 in his role as an assistant coach at Haileybury College.
After three years of overseeing his protégé's development, Lloyd couldn't be prouder of Clavarino's growth on and off the field.
"I've never a seen a young defender read the play like Oscar can, and he loves the challenge of playing on the number one key forward," Lloyd told AFL.com.au.
"He has the ability to quickly decide whether to stay on his man or go third-man-up, and he's been doing that since he was 16.
"I've always thought he's a top-notch player with his ability to read the ball in the air, his foot skills and decision-making –he can be impassable at times.
"And as a character, he's 10 out of 10."
While being tutored by one of the game's greats is a resource few potential draftees have at their disposal, Clavarino is also fortunate to have a current League footballer as a classmate.
St Kilda's Josh Battle is completing year 12 with him at Haileybury, and Clavarino is constantly leaning on the first-year Saint for tips on how to make a smooth transition from junior footy to the big time.
"Josh has taught me how much hard work AFL footy is, but also how rewarding it is too," Clavarino said.
"He's a role model because I take notice of what he's doing as a professional athlete – like his preparation, his diet, and that will help me if I'm lucky enough to get drafted.
"I ask him heaps of questions that might get a bit annoying but we're really good mates, so I don't think he minds."