HE'S the silent assassin in the Brisbane backline.

The man charged with stopping the opposition's most dangerous small forward each week.

His name is Brandon Starcevich.

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Following a breakout 2020 in which he played 18 games, Starcevich has gone to a new level this year to thrust his name into the conversation with the best medium defenders in the competition.

Keeping Fremantle's Michael Walters to one goal from seven disposals last Sunday was the latest in a string of scalps that would be the envy of many.

Tom Papley (one goal), Jordan de Goey (one), Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (one), Robbie Gray (one) and Eddie Betts (none, although he kicked four behinds) have all been clamped by the 21-year-old.

Brandon Starcevich keeps a close eye on Jordan De Goey in round three, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

In-form Brisbane forward Lincoln McCarthy has been opposed to Starcevich plenty over the past couple of pre-seasons and explained why the No.18 pick from the 2017 NAB AFL Draft is so difficult to play on.

"He's physical, he's so athletic but he also reads the game very well," McCarthy told AFL.com.au.

"He knows when to be a genuine defender, but also knows when he can out-mark you.

"When it hits the deck, he's so strong.

"Physically he's a brute."

Starcevich played just five games in his first two seasons, dogged by persistent hamstring injuries, but has missed just once since the beginning of last year.

To call him quietly-spoken would be an understatement. As McCarthy says, in a team that has its fair share of extroverts, the young West Australian is happy to sit back and laugh along with his teammates.

But once he's on the field, that's totally different.

He's the youngest in a backline that boasts dual All Australian Harris Andrews, reliable Darcy Gardiner, Marcus Adams, Ryan Lester and left-footed offensive architects Daniel Rich and Grant Birchall.

"He's just a ripper to play with," McCarthy said.

"You just know what you're getting out of him every game.

"You feel as if he's a 100-game player.

Brandon Starcevich tackles Shane Edwards during the 2020 qualifying final. Picture: AFL Potos

"Now that he's having a good run at it, it's great to see his week-in week-out consistency and development."

It's not just the defensive side of his game that has impressed.

Starcevich is improving his attacking game, backing himself to intercept mark, burst from congestion and use his penetrating right boot.

"As a forward there's nothing better than knowing 'Starce' is in a one-on-one contest, knowing he's probably going to win it and can then break off and make an attacking play as well

"That's been an awesome part of his growth.

"He's a quiet achiever but loves coming to work and improving on his game."

The assignments get no easier on Saturday when Brisbane head south to play Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium.

Watching Starcevich line up on young Suns wizard Izak Rankine should be one of the highlights of QClash20.