Harry Himmelberg is ready to niggle and negate Jeremy McGovern, should Greater Western Sydney ask the youngster to help stop the intercept king ending their AFL season.
McGovern, who set a new league record for contested intercept marks last year, was arguably best on ground in last week’s epic elimination final against Port Adelaide.
McGovern held 15 marks – including seven intercepts – to help West Coast prevail in extra time.
The 25-year-old could easily do the same against the Giants in Saturday’s semi-final at Spotless Stadium.
Part of the solution, as detailed by GWS veterans Heath Shaw and Callan Ward this week, is smarter ball movement and resisting the urge to bomb it into the forward line.
But McGovern’s match-winning potential means there is also a strong argument for deploying a defensive forward.
Himmelberg shapes as the most likely man for the all-important job, having played in a similar capacity on Adelaide’s Jake Lever last week.
The 21-year-old, who made his finals debut against the Crows, would relish the responsibility.
“It’s obviously a little bit of a different role. Playing back line for the bulk of my AFL career so far definitely helps,” Himmelberg told AAP.
“It’s a tough task.
“We saw in their game against Port that if McGovern gets a free jump at the ball he will do some real damage.
“So that’s somewhere that we’re going to have to nullify.”
Himmelberg, an academy product who hails from the Riverina, has played 14 AFL games.
But he has been watching plenty of footage and picking the brains of various teammates to research his latest role.
Nick Haynes, who has a knack of clunking intercept marks in defence, has been particularly insightful.
“I’ve got a good relationship with him and he lets me know what he does and doesn’t like,” Himmelberg said.
“Nobody really likes being niggled.
“If I bring that aggression; if I’m playing a role like that; then it’s usually pretty effective.”
Shaw suggested finding a way to limit McGovern’s influence would be “easier said than done”.
“McGovern is elite at what he does,” the former Collingwood veteran said.
“If you can get free ball going forward, go through his man or bypass him totally, that’s gold.
“If the pressure is good up the field, they can force a haphazardly kick forward and those sort of guys come into it.”
Ward expressed similar sentiments, noting “as a midfield group we just need to be smarter going forward, which we’ve needed to do in the last month”.