Hawthorn’s Brent Guerra will be hoping for his second premership medal when he lines up against Fremantle on Saturday in the AFL grand final.By Luke McManus
Saturday’s AFL grand final will be an extra special one for Hawthorn’s Brent Guerra.
Twelve months on from missing last season’s grand final due to a heartbreaking injury, Guerra looks certain to line-up for the Hawks against Fremantle in this weekend’s epic.
Watching from the outer will be his mother and father, Karen and Geoff.
Guerra’s parents plan to make the 219km journey from their Echuca home to Melbourne and will be joined by Brent’s brother, Luke, and sister, Tegan.
The Hawk, a regular visitor to Echuca, said he felt privileged to have another opportunity to play on the AFL’s biggest stage.
‘‘It feels amazing,’’ he said. ‘‘After the disappointment of last year, I now have another chance, and in front of my family as well which will be great.
‘‘I’m a little nervous. It will be a big week with everything going on but it won’t faze me too much.’’
Guerra made football’s ultimate sacrifice last season, ruling himself out of the 2012 grand final against Sydney due to a hamstring tear suffered four weeks earlier.
In a race against time, the star defender was put through rigorous fitness tests but was overcome by the injury, forced to make the heartbreaking decision just five days before the big game.
‘‘Up until grand final week I was still a chance to play,’’ Guerra said.
‘‘It was shattering, but at the same time, I couldn’t let the boys know I was disappointed.
‘‘It was important for me to remain upbeat and not to walk around the club with my head down.
‘‘I made sure I always had a smile on my face and I was there to help the boys out as much as I could.’’
Guerra attributes the club’s focus on player management as the catalyst for his peak condition this time around.
Featuring in 18 of Hawthorn’s 24 matches this season, the 31-year-old was given a rest at every opportunity.
‘‘We didn’t want the same thing to happen again, so this year we’ve managed the body a bit more,’’ he said.
‘‘Any sign of soreness or niggles, I was the first one to put the hand up to miss a game.
‘‘The fitness staff at the club have been first class and it’s all gone a long way in helping me play consistent footy.’’
After getting through this season reasonably unscathed, Guerra admitted it was difficult to put aside last season’s agony and the possibility of another injury played on his mind in the lead up to September.
‘‘To get through (last weekend) was an unbelievable feeling,’’ he said.
‘‘I didn’t play in round 23 this year because I was sore.
‘‘It was hard not to think about it, but when finals came around, I moved on and just focused on playing good footy.’’
Hearts were in mouths for different reasons during the Hawks’ stirring five-point win against Geelong on Friday night, when Guerra came from the ground limping following a knock to his thigh in a marking contest in the second quarter.
But he played on and starred, finishing with 25 disposals, 10 marks, two tackles and a goal.
It was clear nothing was going to stand in his way of playing the following week.
Barring a shock omission, Guerra will line up for game number 255 on Saturday and vie for his second premiership medallion, adding to his 2008 triumph.
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