As we near the big dance, substantial calls have to be made to ensure that teams give themselves the best chance to win and become premiers.
With the difficulty of fitting 40 into 23, coaches are set with the task of selecting their best lineup.
Through injury, form and misfortune, some players are unlucky, missing out on living out their lifelong dreams.
At the present time, those who feature in the grand final are awarded with premiership medals, with those who miss out not receiving the piece of silverware.
Sydney have brought in Hayden McLean for the first time since round eight at the expense of youngster Logan McDonald, breaking up a winning combination that held off raging Collingwood by one point.
McLean’s inclusion into the senior side joins a rare feat, returning for the decider after the second-biggest gap for players.
The forward comes in after 140 days on the sidelines, behind only Robert Neill (174 days) in 1997, according to Fox Sports.
McDonald kicked one goal from six touches and struggled to get into the game, with coach John Longmire making the difficult decision to omit the 20-year-old.
The pick four from the 2020 Draft is not the only hard-luck story of the Swans, with recently retired veteran Josh Kennedy also unable to get up for the decider.
Kennedy was limited to 11 games in 2022 as he re-injured his hamstring and ultimately missed out on a fairytale ending.
Josh Kennedy re-injured his hamstring.
The Sydney legend has officially played his last game for the Swans ❤️ pic.twitter.com/0zZ74tvuT2
— 7AFL (@7AFL) September 15, 2022
Geelong are set to go into the 2022 AFL Grand Final unchanged from their preliminary final win against Brisbane, which saw the Cats demolish the Lions by 71 points.
However, an injury cloud is hovering over Max Holmes, with the winger initially named.
Holmes will be watched with a cautious eye, with Mark O’Connor and Brandon Parfitt in waiting.
— Real Footy (AFL) (@agerealfooty) September 23, 2022
As players have been kept from the grand final side due to injury or some misfortune, questions arise as to whether or not every player should be awarded a premiership medal, despite not featuring on the biggest stage.
Recently retired Swan Josh Kennedy believes that any player who dons the colours is apart of the success and should be treated accordingly.
“I think like most sports around the world, and certainly not on the day but down the track, they’re certainly part of it,” Kennedy said.
“Winning a premiership isn’t just on the day its right through getting there and it takes a whole club too be able to do that so I’m in favour of it.
“I think back to teammates of mine in 2012 that were heartbreakingly unlucky through injury to miss the grand final but undoubtedly we wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for them.”
Media personality and formed North Melbourne player David King agreed somewhat with Kennedy’s opinion, believing that a player must have played at least one game to qualify.
“I don’t think it matters, why are people so upset with that? I agree with Josh, I think if you’ve played a game through the year then you’re part of the premiership squad,” King said.
Kennedy and McDonald are apart of a long list of players who have been unfortunate to miss out, leaving coaches with the difficult and heartbreaking decision.
In last year’s edition of the decider that was played off between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs, Luke Beveridge made the tough call to drop both Laitham Vandermeer and Ryan Gardner for the returning duo of Cody Weightman and Alex Keath.
Unfortunately to no avail, Weightman and Keath couldn’t prevent the Demons from breaking the premiership drought that’s alluded the club since 1964.
In 2019, Richmond midfielder Jack Graham also missed out on premiership glory, as he dislocated his shoulder in the preliminary final against Geelong the week before.
Graham’s absence opened the door for the then-debutant Marlion Pickett, who played his first AFL game in a grand final, becoming the sixth player to debut in the decider, according to AFL.com.au.
Mitch McGovern was another case of bad luck, with the forward being kept on the sidelines in the 2017 grand final, failing to get up for big dance due to injury.
Sydney in 2016 were forced into two changes as Jarrad McVeigh and Callum Mills returned, forcing Aliir Aliir and Harrison Marsh out of the side.
Billy Hartung’s omission was a tough pill to swallow for the winger, as Hawthorn forward Jack Gunston was named in the 2015 grand final, overcoming an ankle injury.