Sydney Swans veteran Adam Goodes. Photo: Getty Images
Sydney Swans development coach Jared Crouch said dual Brownlow medallist Adam Goodes was too important to risk in Sunday's NEAFL eastern conference grand final and felt hunger gave the Canberra-based teams an ''edge'' in the decider.
The Swans, who play Belconnen in the eastern conference grand final at Kippax on Sunday, decided earlier in the week Goodes hadn't fully recovered from his knee injury and would play no further part in their AFL premiership defence.
Goodes was eligible to play against Belconnen because Sydney play in an AFL semi-final on Saturday night.
That's also why both Lewis Roberts-Thomson (knee) and Gary Rohan (leg) have both been named for the NEAFL match, as they push for a return to the seniors.
Crouch said he wouldn't know his final line-up until Saturday night's AFL clash between the Swans and Carlton.
''You want them to play because the seniors are still playing and to give them game time … but then is [Goodes] too valuable to get injured in a competition like that?'' Crouch told The Canberra Times.
''We all know what grand finals are like, especially at this level, so would you be kicking yourself more if he got injured in a grand final or just give him a hard training session at home?
''He's a two-time premiership, two-time Brownlow [winner], would you risk him with the chance of getting injured with the history that has happened in this comp?''
Sunday's game will be the Swans' third consecutive eastern conference grand final, having lost the previous two to Ainslie and Queanbeyan.
Both times the Swans went in as favourites after dominating all season, but they couldn't win the decider.
It's a similar story against Belconnen, who they've beaten by 91 and 81 points on the two occasions they've met this season.
With the Swans' main focus clearly on the AFL, Crouch said the hunger the local clubs had in a grand final had been critical in the last two grand final losses.
''Trying not to be disrespectful to the competition, but I think we all live in a realistic world, does [the grand final] mean as much to us as a Belconnen?'' Crouch said.
''If it gets close and it gets tight that's why those sides are able to pull away, because our guys are thinking about what do I need to do to get to the seniors … that's the edge the non-AFL sides have over us.''