NOT often two sides go big at the selection table before a grand final.
But Nirranda and Old Collegians have thrown that trend out the window with their inclusions for Saturday’s Warrnambool and District league decider.
Six-time Hampden league premiership player Isaac Templeton, who returns from a two-match suspension, was the Blues’ sole inclusion.
While experienced finals campaigner Nathan Forth, who has played in the past two District league grand finals, returns from a knee injury to take his place in the Warriors’ forward line.
“Tempy is ready to go,” Nirranda co-coach Shane Threlfall said.
“He will bring great leadership to our team and he will be vocal around the ground, setting up our match-ups at stoppages and getting his own footy.”
The third-year co-coach, who led the Blues to victory the last time they met the Warriors in the final game of the season in 2016, said the former Saint’s grand final experience would come in handy for the Blues.
“With the experience that he brings he will be a good sounding board for the boys,” he said.
Old Collegians coach Josh Reichman said Forth had been put through rigorous tests to prove his fitness to the coaching staff.
“He had a solid fitness test on Thursday and he passed with flying colours,” the third-year playing mentor said.
“We had him doing some agility tests on his knee and we got him to fly for a few contests. He trained well with the kicking and got through unscathed.”
Reichman said Josh Stapleton was “extremely unlucky” to lose his spot in the Warriors’ 22.
“Josh has played all year and he will be one of those hard stories from this year’s final,” he said.
“He has taken it on board and he will get around the boys and I would love for him to be involved on the sideline but it’s up to him.”
Reagan Nutting, who was the sub in 2016 and played in the under 17.5s premiership last season, was the unlucky Blue squeezed out to make way for Templeton.
“He has been a really good player for us this year and he is tough to miss as someone had to be squeezed out for Tempy,” Threlfall said.
“But he will play a key role in the reserves final and he will use his experience there.”
Threlfall mentioned three other Blues who were also pushing for a late call up.
“Jack Primmer was a chance and he had good form in the reserves (second-semi final),” he said.
“Heath Turner and Tobais Lane have also been good and were unlucky to miss.”