INJURY has already robbed him of one grand final, and Lake Albert talisman Jamie Rankin is determined not to endure that heartache again as he battles a troublesome ankle before Sunday's Pascoe Cup decider against Hanwood.
Rankin has been carrying a sprained ankle for five weeks, but finally succumbed to the issue when he was carried off in the first half of the Sharks' 1-0 preliminary final win over Henwood Park at Junee on Sunday.
The midfielder has won the club's past three best and fairest awards and would be a huge omission if he was unable to play a Hanwood side which beat them 1-0 in the major semi to qualify for the grand final.
A hamstring injury forced Rankin to watch the 2017 grand final against the Hawks from the sideline, which Henwood Park won via a penalty shootout.
The club is confident Rankin's toughness will ensure he plays some role on Sunday, but Rankin was non committal about his availability when asked after the preliminary final.
"I've got no idea (if I'll be fit), to be honest. I'm hoping like hell it will be alright because it's such a good feeling to get back to the grand final," he said.
"I'm just going to see how it comes up this week. I rolled it on the ball trying to block a challenge and it felt exactly the same as when I first did it two weeks before the end of the regular season."
Rankin said he was willing to play through pain and come back on had Lake Albert conceded an equaliser after taking an early lead.
"I took a couple of painkillers at halftime and if they got a goal I was going to go back on," he said.
"But the boys put in an unbelievable effort and held on, I don't know how well I would have gone if I'd come back on.
"e thought we'd play it safe and put the trust in the boys to get the job done."
Rankin said missing the 2017 decider was hard to take and is determined to ensure he doesn't suffer the same fate.
"I'm terrible (as a spectator), absolutely terrible," he said.
"In 2017 I was no good for the grand final and had to watch, it was the worst feeling ever.
"I couldn't deal with watching that game (preliminary final against Henwood Park). Henwood are a quality side and they threw everything at us."
After Rankin went off the Sharks shifted regular left winger Cam Mavor to midfield, with youngster Liam Bryder coming off the bench and acquitting himself well out wide.
It's a proven option should Rankin miss out, but the smart money is he will play.
"The motivation is we have a good rivalry going with Hanwood and we want to get one back over them," Rankin said.
"There's definitely a lot of niggle. We respect the hell out of them, but on the field we're going to go 110 per cent and I'm sure they will too."
The grand final is scheduled to start at 4pm at Equex Centre on Sunday.