HARRIS Andrews and Marcus Adams are Brisbane's yin and yang, their contrasting styles forming one of the competition's best key defensive pairings early in 2022.

Adams is the AFL's leading intercept defender through five rounds, marking the ball from opposition kicks 24 times.

Yet he does so much more for the Lions.

Adams' 192cm body is as hard as granite, able to skilfully combine wrestling the game's strongest power forwards with winning the ball back for his team.

He's a deep thinker with a quiet, no-fuss approach that has finally got some continuity with his body after so many years of struggles.


Then there's Andrews, the 202cm vice-captain, the backline leader with a voice that resonates around Brisbane's defensive 50.

He has the seemingly endless arms that can spoil from almost any position and a hunger matched by few in his team.

After a strong 2021, yet slightly down on the lofty heights of his previous two Therabody All-Australian campaigns, Andrews confessed he needed to address some shortcomings in his game.

"I need to be better as a footballer and teammate," he said during the pre-season.

"It's just finding that balance between stopping my opponent and looking to help out guys elsewhere."

Heading into Sunday's match against Queensland rivals Gold Coast, Andrews has largely struck that balance in 2022.


He has competed in more contested defensive one-on-ones (30) than anyone else in the League, and his success rate in those battles is only bettered by Suns' vice-captain Sam Collins among the top-10 in that category.

Andrews told AFL.com.au he was pleased – so far.

"I've been OK," he said. "I feel like I've played my role for the team, which is super important.

"It's been great having Marcus up and flying, he's done such a great job of winning the ball back for us. I feel like I'm contributing alright without setting world on fire.

"We're winning football games and that's what we're chasing."

Andrews has been resilient throughout his 141-game career, and with Adams playing 22 of the past 27 games, the duo are finally getting a chance to gel alongside reliable Darcy Gardiner.

"Marcus is extremely influential," Andrews said.

"His ability to play on really dangerous key forwards and win his own ball in 50-50 contests is massive for us.

"It's great to see someone who puts so much work into their body get so much reward for effort now.

"It's incredible what he can do. He reads the ball off the boot so well and is so strong in the contest. He can hold his opponent out and then come back to win the ball.

"It makes our jobs so much easier, myself, and even the half-backs and small defenders."

Andrews said there was still room to improve though, both between himself and Adams and the reshaped Lions backline that has accommodated skipper Dayne Zorko and Noah Answerth this season.

They have the versatility to swap between key opponents, like Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron against Geelong or Nick Larkey and Todd Goldstein against North Melbourne.

"It does help you game-to-game having awareness of what each others' strengths are. We're still working through that," he said.

"We've found ourselves a few times both in good positions to mark, looking at each other and hesitating – we're still working on that synergy.

"There's a lot of area for growth."