IT DOESN'T quite fit the description of a No.4 draft pick, and it’s certainly not how he thought he’d deployed in the typically critical third season of AFL development, but it might just be the making of him: Lachie Ash, the tagger.

It’s a role he insists is only temporary, but one being fulfilled with aplomb right now.

And there is confidence that it will act as a steep learning curve for when the 20-year-old is entrusted with winning the ball for the Giants himself, sometime soon.

When Ash strolled out to the centre square of Giants Stadium in round three and stood shoulder to shoulder with Touk Miller, it was clear he had been tasked with stopping one of the best players, never mind ball-winners, in the AFL.

Lachie Ash gets a handball away under pressure from Gryan Miers during an elimination final on September 3, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

He did that as well as one can possibly hope to right now in a battle with the Gold Coast Suns star, keeping him to just 17 touches and three clearances.

That’s near enough to half of Miller’s average on both counts from his All-Australian year in the season previous.

Last week in Perth, in his 38th game, Ash’s mission was subduing Dockers maestro Andrew Brayshaw.

The midfield jet still chalked up 26 disposals but only one of them was a clearance and only four of the possessions were contested.

Lachie Ash kicks the ball during round four, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

In the stoppages, Ash again nullified the influence.

It might not be a ploy used every week but it is one that is clearly working for Leon Cameron.

And the diligent Shepparton product, is happy to carry out the duty.

“When you’re doing something well and it’s benefiting others, there’s no better feeling really,” he told AFL.com.au.

“Just executing your role and helping those around you achieve the common goal, it’s very, very satisfying.”

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“It can be good because you just get stuck in your own little battle and become fixated on that and it’s easy to determine how you’re going. But you’re also out there to get the footy and it takes a little bit away from that,” he continued.

Ash’s elite running ability, tackling acumen and discipline are the attributes that Leon Cameron highlighted in the wake of his Touk Miller conquest as to why he has assumed chief tagging duties at the Giants.

But the role is still one that requires a full week of preparation and concentration in order to master it.

Lachie Ash in action during a GWS training session on February 9, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

“Doing it for four quarters is probably the hardest thing!" Ash said.

“I watch a lot of vision, stoppage clips on their running patterns and what they do away from the contest and then later in the week you practice a lot of body work,” Ash said.

“Touk Miller loves to get on the move at stoppage, so Josh Kelly who loves to do that, I’ll practice on him at training. Just little things like that to get a taste of what it’s going to be like.”

“And then when you’re out there it’s just about staying focused and don’t get caught ball watching. I find it’s important to stay on the move, if you get caught flat footed it’s hard to dictate to them. If you’re moving it makes them think about you a little bit as well."

Lachie Ash in action during a practice match between the Giants and Swans on February 25, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

History has shown that silencing the opposition’s biggest star can often lead to a lashing out on the man assigned to do so.

Think Cousins on Liberatore, Knights on Liberatore, Buckley on Ling, Judd on Baker and many more.

But there has been none of that in Ash’s lock down experiences so far.

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“I try to wear them down with work rate rather than anything physical and I like to play fair, I was raised to play fair and within the rules,” he said.

“Touk and Andy were the exact same and were very fair, so it was just a good contest.”

GWS' Lachie Ash (centre) involved in a scuffle against Fremantle in round four, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Ultimately, the hope for the young Giant is that this tagging experience ensures that he is the one that needs to be close checked in the years to come.

His early selection in the 2019 draft was born from a prolific ball-winning ability at under-age levels and with nine 20+ possession games in his AFL career already including 35 touches against the Bulldogs in round six last season, there’s every possibility that will be the case.

“Yeah, definitely. I don’t see it as a long-term role in the team,” he said.

“My first year and a half I was a back with talk of moving into the midfield at some stage and I’m finding that even just running with players, it’s a good way to learn running patterns. As much as I’m trying to stop them, I’m picking up so much as I go.”

“I look at it as a chance to fast-track my learning and help out the team as well.”

Melbourne's Alex Neal-Bullen is tackled by GWS' Lachie Ash. Picture: AFL Photos

The implementation of Ash against the Premiers on Saturday night will be a matter of intrigue.

Leon Cameron was coy during the week as to whether he’ll ask him to do a hard tagging role for the third week in a row, with Melbourne’s litany of midfield threats providing the main quandry.

“Yeh, you’re right, unfortunately we can’t tag eight players. Not sure as of yet. Obviously a couple stand out in Petracca and Oliver but you could throw a blanket over seven or eight blokes,” Ash said.

“They’re the best team in it there’s no hiding away from that fact. We’re looking forward to the challenge. We have a good record in big games and moments, we beat them last year and you take confidence from that.

“We’ve got that ‘why not’ sort of attitude.”