GIVEN the personal hell Travis Varcoe has been through over the past month, his two-time Geelong premiership teammate Jimmy Bartel has labelled the Collingwood speedster's finals series "exceptional".
Varcoe lost his sister Margaret in late August after she sustained a head injury during a football game.
She reportedly walked off the ground after the on-field collision but collapsed in the changerooms and was in a coma at the Royal Adelaide Hospital before passing away four days later.
The Magpies veteran travelled back to Adelaide to be by his sister's bedside with the blessing of the club before she passed but returned to Melbourne soon after and played in the Pies' first final against West Coast in Perth on September 8.
Varcoe has kicked a goal in each of Collingwood's three finals wins and while he hasn't had a massive influence on the three matches, his presence among the group has been inspiring, something Bartel is familiar with after spending eight seasons with the 30-year-old at the Cats.
"I think what he's doing is an unbelievable effort, it's been incredible," Bartel said.
"To lose a sister at such a young age in a football incident is quite shocking, so to play with such composure with all that going on off the field has been exceptional.
"I've sent him a couple of messages telling him I was behind him, and I think he's everyone's favourite player at the moment because we all want to see him do well."
This week's decider will be Varcoe's fourth after he helped Geelong to flags in 2009 and 2011 and was part of the team that suffered a shock loss to Hawthorn in 2008.
He kicked the first two goals of the 2011 win, his first in the opening 10 seconds of the match, then produced a brilliant individual effort in the final term when the Cats kicked away from the Magpies.
Varcoe and Bartel celebrate a goal for the Cats in the 2011 Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos
Bartel, the Norm Smith medallist that afternoon, said Varcoe won't register big numbers against the Eagles this week, but he's an extremely important member of the Pies' 22.
"He's a 'moments' player," he said.
"He's not going to have 20+ touches and kick five goals, but he'll get his 12-15 and lay some big tackles and kick a special goal.
"He keeps defenders on their toes because his closing speed is extraordinary, and he hurts people when he tackles and bumps them.
"People are looking over their shoulders when he's around and I think he'll have a big impact on the game."