PORT Fairy coach Brett Evans says omitting loyal Seagull Nick Sheehan from the grand final team ranks among his toughest decisions as a leader.
Hampden league best and fairest runner-up Jackson Hollmer has replaced Sheehan in the Seagulls’ best 21 which will take on powerhouse Koroit at Reid Oval on Saturday.
Sheehan was told of his omission on Sunday and took a lighter approach to the call at training on Thursday night, wearing an Essendon guernsey with Derek Kickett’s number nine in reference to the Bomber’s infamous dropping ahead of the 1993 AFL grand final.
“He’s probably the most respected player in our club,” Evans said of Sheehan.
“He is a true clubman. We didn’t want to have to do it but unfortunately we had to.
“He’s going to help on the bench on Saturday and that goes to show the type of person and strong character he is.”
Evans said Sheehan, who has played 17 of a possible 19 games this year, responded well.
“It took him a few days but he was still here at training on Tuesday and the Derek Kickett outfit at training tonight – I was proud of him for that,” he said.
“He was having a joke in what is a tough time for him and it broke the ice for everyone.”
Meanwhile, Koroit coach Chris McLaren was also forced to make a hard call at the selection table.
Three-time premiership ruckman Ethyn Zimmer was omitted due to team balance.
First-year Saint Taylor McKenry was also dropped.
McLaren and Hampden interleague representative Taylor Mulraney return to the Saints’ line-up.
The coach said it was a tough call to leave Zimmer, who was told of the change on Thursday afternoon, out.
“We’re long-time mates,” he said.
“With all decisions there’s an enormous amount of consideration.
“It was tough to do and not enjoyable to do.”
McLaren said the Saints opted for one specialist ruckman in Jeremy Hausler.
He said it was harder to rest Zimmer forward now that their forward line boasted the Darmody brothers Michael and Marcus, Will Couch and Jarrod Korewha.