THE INTRIGUE surrounding the availability of Adelaide's Rory Sloane and Geelong's Joel Selwood this week has been a strong reminder it's finals time.
Injury updates are paramount in September as fans sweat on whether key players will take the field, while there is a special horror that comes with news of a late withdrawal hours before a key final.
The Crows have confirmed that Sloane won't play after he underwent an appendix operation last week, while the Cats are confident their skipper will turn up fit and ready to fire against the Tigers on Friday night.
Hoever, one thing can be guaranteed, there will be a late withdrawal in the next four weeks that no-one sees coming until just before the game, while the Sloane-Selwood tales will likely be overtaken by a much bigger injury-related story as we move deep into the finals.
AFL.com.au looks at some of the late outs from finals since 2010, and how the respective clubs coped with their absence.
2016 preliminary final
Dan Menzel (Geelong) Loss
A groin problem forced the enigmatic forward out late, but he would not have had much effect on the result as the ball hardly entered the Cats forward 50 in the first quarter. The Cats hope he can be at his best this September.
2015 qualifying final
Matt Priddis (West Coast) Win
A thigh problem kept the 2014 Brownlow Medallist sidelined for the qualifying final, but the Eagles' senior players lifted to overcome the Hawks and earn a home preliminary final. He returned two weeks later to help West Coast into a Grand Final with a best on ground performance against North Melbourne.
Lance Franklin (Sydney Swans) Loss
Franklin watched on while dealing with mental health issues as the Swans attempted to beat the Dockers at Domain Stadium for a preliminary final spot. After a brave effort, they lost and were out in straight sets after losing to North Melbourne the next week. Franklin bounced back the next season, benefiting from the break.
2013 qualifying final
Tom Hawkins (Geelong) Loss
A persistent back problem caught up with the big Cat and he was a huge withdrawal for the final at Simonds Stadium against Fremantle. The Cats kicked inaccurately and were beaten in a major upset.
2012 preliminary final
Luke Hodge (Hawthorn) Win
The inspirational skipper suffered an untimely bout of gastro to be a surprise out on the eve of the match. The Hawks battled to overcome Adelaide in his absence but finally got there by five points.
2012 qualifying final
Jordan Lewis (Hawthorn) Win
Hamstring soreness ruled him out, with news starting to break in the hours before the game against Collingwood. Although favourites, the Hawks once again turned to Brad Sewell to take up the slack and beat Collingwood.
2011 qualifying final
Ben Reid (Collingwood) Win
Collingwood fans had an attack of the nerves when news broke that Reid's quad injury had forced him to sit in the stands with Dale Thomas. With Heath Shaw returning from a gambling suspension and the Eagles talls posing a danger, the Magpies had to rely on a late Luke Ball stoppage goal to breath easily.
2010 Grand Final
Simon Prestigiacomo (Collingwood) Draw
A selfless decision from the veteran as he told Mick Malthouse he was not confident he had overcome an adductor injury and therefore he had to withdraw from the Grand Final. Nathan Brown was included and performed brilliantly against Saints star Nick Riewoldt. Prestigiacomo also watched the replay from the sidelines as Brown became a premiership player.