It is the sort of thing that happens all the time, yet, no matter how many times it happens, you hate to see it.
We are talking of the loss of a key player by a club at the worst possible time, when the season is on the line.
That is precisely the fate that befell the West Coast Eagles. They have lost defender Brad Sheppard for the rest of the Toyota 2018 AFL Premiership competition finals.
Sheppard went down in the first quarter of the Eagles’ final win over the Collingwood Magpies. He left the game immediately and did not return.
He has damaged his hamstring tendon and the initial assessment is that he will need eight to 12 weeks to recover.
Sheppard had shown an uncanny ability to preserve his ability to get on the ground and was playing in his 95th consecutive game. He did not miss a game since 2015, although he was spotty during the first five years of his career, including 2011, when he made only six appearances.
On the positive side of the ledger, West Coast finished second on the ladder during the home-and-away season as the result of having players ready to go in the event one of the top 22 is unable to answer the bell.
Lewis Jetta came in to fill Sheppard’s void and Jetta was responsible for a key goal in the latter stages of the Eagles’ 86 – 70 victory over the Collingwood Magpies.
The speculation is that West Coast will enlist the services of veteran Will Schofield for the preliminary final with the appropriate survivor of the semi finals.
Schofield made 10 appearances for West Coast this season and 10 in 2017, so between he and Jetta, the Eagles should have the manpower to overcome the loss of Sheppard, but the preferred scenario for the Eagles would have been that if Sheppard was going down, he go down in the final minutes of the fourth quarter of the Grand Final.