AAP AFL

On standby for AFL GF, Giant wait now over

By AAP Newswire

The dashing of Lachie Keeffe's AFL grand-final dream last year was a little different to most GWS teammates, delivered by a last-minute fitness test rather than a rampaging Richmond.

Keeffe helped the Giants topple Collingwood in the 2019 preliminary final, having been called up after star Toby Greene was given a one-game suspension.

The writing was on the wall for the versatile tall in grand-final week given he knew Greene and Lachie Whitfield would return, but Phil Davis' calf injury meant a late reprieve was still possible.

But Davis passed his pre-game fitness test, while Keeffe watched on as the Tigers thumped GWS by 89 points.

Keeffe has waited a long time for another chance to impress at AFL level, having started to study applied finance and trained with Matt de Boer during the league's COVID-19 shutdown, but it will come against Hawthorn on Sunday.

The recalled defender, whose 58-game career is a story of persistence that spans two clubs, a knee reconstruction and a two-year ban after testing positive for clenbuterol, has had plenty of time to reflect on last September.

"I turned 30 this year, so I'm getting towards the back end of my career and I know how hard it is to win a grand final," Keeffe told AAP.

"Those opportunities don't come around too often. I just told myself I needed to give myself the best chance to get an opportunity.

"I've been in and out of the team my whole career really.

"I want to change that, put in more consistent efforts at senior level ... then when push comes to shove at the business end of this season, hopefully I'm there or thereabouts."

Keeffe admitted he held out hope of a call-up for the 2019 grand final until "basically just before the bounce", but always knew it was unlikely.

"Talking to Phil that week, he was pretty confident ... but you just have to be ready," he said.

"He passed that test and that's how the cookie crumbles."

Keeffe, who was drafted by Collingwood in 2008 and at the club for the 2010 and 2011 grand finals, nonetheless has some fond memories of the week.

"I was a bit younger when the Pies were there. I didn't take it all in. You just think it's going to happen over and over again," he said.

"It is a cool time. There was a real buzz in Sydney.

"It didn't end the way we wanted it to. Hopefully we can get back there this year and I can make that team."