Eagles ace: Adam Selwood (right) takes on Hawk Jordan Lewis. Photo: Getty Images
The West Coast stopper is as disciplined as they come.
BRENT Harvey copped two matches for whatever spilt Adam Selwood's blood last Sunday, while whacking Daniel Kerr to earn another four was effectively an act of frustration at Selwood making the veteran Roo's blood boil throughout a stinker of a Subiaco afternoon.
Far from joining the fight, North coach Brad Scott opined post-game that the Eagles' stopper was exactly the sort of player his team needed. There are many who think Collingwood will emerge from tonight's do-or-die final with the same longing.
As a close mate, Ashley Hansen knows his objectivity could be questioned. But he insists his 2006 premiership teammate is no old-school tagger of the sort that gives the job a grubby name.
''He's just relentless in his pursuit of staying disciplined to the role,'' Hansen says of Selwood. ''Just the wear and tear of his discipline eventually gets to them [opponents], and that's what frustrates them to the point of retaliating. They're good players [who are] not having the influence that they'd like - and that's because of Adam, so they retaliate at him.
''I don't think it's a one-off incident that gets to them, just a build-up. Especially come finals time, when you want to have an influence more than ever.''
David Teague has an opponent's perspective - of the unbreakable competitor who, true to genetic make-up, put his head over the ball no matter what the danger - and an insider's, formed over two years as West Coast's defensive coach. He cites a trait not often featured in lists of footballers' strengths as one of Selwood's greatest: concentration.
''As a coach, you watch a lot of games from behind the goals, and just the little things he does off the ball - hitting the body at the right times, just making it hard for his opponent to get a run,'' he says. ''It's all fair and within the rules of the game, but he's just there constantly. A lot of people have that ability but can't do it all day. Adam can.''
Maree and Bryce Selwood's superstar third son (Joel) tends to get the headlines, but big brother Adam - twin of Troy, teammate of youngest sibling Scott - maintains that steely focus as he continues down the path of a significant career. Tonight is his 178th game, 2012 his 10th season; form and appetite suggest the 28-year-old is far from done.
His role has changed, from a midfielder who married ball-winning and run-with duties to the player who, since the Eagles emerged from their 2010 nadir, coach John Worsfold has routinely sent to the opposition's most dangerous small forward. Making way for the next wave - Andrew Gaff, Luke Shuey, your own flesh and blood - has grizzled many a veteran, but Teague says Selwood has adapted with aplomb.
''When I arrived, he would have loved to have played in the midfield still, but we were keen to get games into younger players,'' he said. ''It probably took him a little while to totally grasp it - [the role] was less around stoppages and more reading the play.''
These are not jobs for number watchers; Selwood has had only seven 20-plus possession games in the past two seasons, having reached that mark 12 times in just 16 games in the spoon-winning doldrums of 2010. Scott this season joined Joel in the 25-a-game sphere of the ball magnets, but Hansen says his mate has always had a what's-best-for-the-team mindset. ''Come September, they're just as important as a player who wins a lot of the footy, they're vital to team balance,'' he says. Specific to this player, he adds: ''The way the whole family plays is represented in the way Adam goes about it too.''
Teague says he has willed himself to become an important cog in West Coast's defence, one member of a sextet the former Kangaroo and Blue likes to think all wear the ''tagger'' tag to a certain degree. He says Selwood thrives on taking on the star small forwards, understands that he benefits the team more by ''locking in tight'' on a dangerous opponent than roaming loose behind the ball, ''because he can handle them better than anyone in our side''.
''Transition'' is a modern footy buzzword that genuinely matters, and since his future went back, Selwood has worked hard on getting into positions where he can be an effective link in the chain from defence to attack. This is but one facet of the broader defensive package that Teague says he now displays with proficiency.
''Moving from on-ball and hunting the ball more - even though he often had defensive roles in there as well - he's gone into an area where the ball's not there as often. You really want to minimise your mistakes, minimise the times your opponent can get the ball.''
Selwood's no-nonsense way has impressed peers and officials in his off-field role as a players' association delegate; Hansen says leadership is another cloak that fits him well. Not to mention another invaluable trait at this time of year. ''In certain circumstances in a game, to be a wise head, to calm the troops down, to really take control, it's vital come September that you have that in your arsenal,'' he says, remembering fondly how he looked up to Ben Cousins, David Wirrpanda, Dean Cox, Daniel Chick and others. ''That's what those young guys need, and that's what Adam gives to the group.''