Many Sydney and Western Bulldogs players would have endured a sleepless night prior to the AFL grand final but that’s nothing new for Jeremy Laidler and Fletcher Roberts.
Laidler and Roberts started the week knowing they were at risk of being dropped at the worst possible time of the year.
Laidler was called up for Sydney’s knock-out finals against Adelaide and Geelong.
But the 27-year-old was aware he could easily be squeezed out of their side if Jarrad McVeigh and Callum Mills proved their fitness for Saturday’s season decider.
“I had a few sleepless nights earlier in the week,” Laidler said, having been an emergency for Sydney in the 2014 grand final.
“I was a little bit nervous but it’s obviously out of my control who the coaches pick.
“I knew I’d put two good games together and I just stayed positive throughout the whole week … John Longmire told me I was playing after training on Wednesday. He couldn’t wipe the small off my face.”
Roberts was in a similar boat. The defender was dropped in week one of the finals but returned at the expense of Matt Suckling (achilles) in the Bulldogs’ epic preliminary final against Greater Western Sydney.
Roberts performed admirably but Suckling was every chance of claiming his place in the team.
“I was a little bit nervous earlier in the week. Now I’m a bit more relaxed,” Roberts said.
“It was obviously a bit nerve-racking but I just tried to focus on recovery and making sure I trained as well as I could.
“I’m very happy to be part of an AFL grand final with such a great group of boys.”
Both defenders will be contesting their first AFL grand final but Laidler can call on 2014 as motivation.
“I was able to experience the parade and all the commotion,” he said.
“Being an emergency and the team losing, they were both massive drivers. I always wanted to get back here.
“We’ve all got stories, both teams, but now we just have to prepare for a big game.”
Former Geelong and Carlton defender Laidler admits his career was at the crossroads in 2013, when he was delisted by the Blues.
“I was up in the air and didn’t know where my career was going,” he said.
“I always had the faith that I could play at the highest level but I just needed the opportunity and the Swans gave me that career lifeline.
“My partner and I moved up to Sydney and didn’t know anyone and the Swans couldn’t have been more welcoming.
“They really take you under their wing .. I’ve never seen anything like it at any other club.”