Key defenders ready to lock down the forwards

17 Jun, 2021

As teams prepare for the NZ Falcons vs NZ All Stars clash on September 25, guaranteed match ups have started to develop between the big boys up forward and the men charged with keeping them quiet.

On Wednesday, we profiled some of the key forwards and today we look at the mighty defenders, who will be aiming for donuts on the scoreboard.

Brandon Sucu


Brandon returned to the Premirship this season after a 4 years stint in Australia.

Sucu hails from Auckland’s North Shore and was named as the inaugarul AFL New Zealand Premiership Best and Fairest winner in 2016 where he was a standout for the his former club, the Southern Saints.

Brandon’s hard work and effort throughout the inaugural season saw him challenge every contest and never give up. His cool, calm demeanour saw Sucu look like he plays in slow motion yet he manages to evade tackles and his options for getting his team out of trouble were far superior to any other defensive player in the competition.

Harison Manks


Harison Manks was a squad member of the Premiership winning Southern Saints in 2017 before moving to the Central Giants in 2018 where he won his second Premiership in as many years.

The 23 year old is a smart defender and is a strong mark who often leads the statistics in this category.

Manks made his debut for New Zealand during the ANZAC game against the AFL Academy in April 2017.

Hayden Johnston


From Otago, Hayden is one of New Zealand’s bright young talents who has grown into one of the best key defenders in the country.

The 2019 U18 player of the year plays for the Southern Saints in the AFLNZ Premiership and played a major role in their 2020 Premiership winning side.

Johnston has been a Vice-Captain of the U18 NZ Falcons and is on the mind of National Head Coach, Chris Mundell for a selection call up.

The 22 year old is strong in the air and reads the play well. He is calm with ball in hand and is touted as a future Saints Captain.

Kieran Charlton


Kieran Charlton is a tough defender with a solid overhead mark.

He took the role at Fullback with the Level 2 Academy side in April 2019 and showed what he can produce against the touring Australian side.

In May 2019, Charlton travelled to Melbourne with the U18 NZ side and played a stellar game off the halfback line. His efforts saw him receive the best on ground nod.

Kieran plays for the Eastern Blues in the Canterbury league and this young talent will continue to develop and has the potential to become a regular in the New Zealand senior side.

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