AAP AFL

Giants’ Matt de Boer a happy AFL tagger

By AAP Newswire

He's happy being the Giants' neutraliser but a modest Matt de Boer says getting a tagging role was the only way he could see himself getting a midfield gig at GWS this season.

The 184-game AFL veteran has developed into arguably the AFL's best tagger in 2019, despite missing seven games in the second half of the season with a shoulder injury.

The 29-year-old midfielder has a number of potential targets in Saturday's semi-final away to Brisbane.

"Lachie Neale's had a great year, (Dayne) Zorko, even Dan Rich off the half-back flank, there's a few options there," de Boer said.

He spent the pre-season on the wing and half-forward, but suggested to GWS midfield coach Lenny Hayes he was up for a tagging role.

"I said if you want to go for a run-with job, I'm your man. I just planted a few seeds," de Boer said.

"It was the only way I saw I could get into the midfield with our star-studded line-up.

"A week out from round one, we had an intra-club. He called me up and said, 'don't say anything but do you want to try and tag Cogs (Stephen Coniglio) tomorrow?'

"Emphasis on the word try, because he'd had a super pre-season.

"I said 'give him to me, we're great mates'.

"I thought it would be a good test for him because he was going to get some attention throughout the year.

"It took him probably two minutes to figure out what was going on and his teammates tried to put a few blocks on.

"I'd like to think it was a draw. It sort of just grew from there."

De Boer knows how pesky taggers can be because he received attention both in the juniors and WAFL.

"They're annoying, taggers, we are annoying, but we serve a purpose," he said.

His role inevitably attracts some hostility from opposing crowds, something that hasn't escaped his notice.

"A little bit, but I'm very focused on what I'm doing and the next moment in the game, I tend to block out a fair bit of that external noise," he said.

De Boer still keeps in touch with former Fremantle teammate Ryan Crowley, one of the most notorious taggers of the past decade,.

"Crowls and I still speak every now and then, he still gives me some of his notes," de Boer said.

"He's been a good resource for me. I take a lot of strength from that."