THERE is a moment, when for all the hype and plot turns in an athlete's story to reach the biggest sporting stages, this is ultimately about business - the big challenge ahead.
Ballarat's Andrew Hooper says this moment is when you cross the white line.
Richmond's Marlion Pickett is set to become the first player in 67 years - since Keith Batchelor for Collingwood in 1952 - to get his first taste of football's highest level in a grand final.
Pickett will be the first player to make his debut in an AFL finals series since Hooper was called into a Western Bulldogs' semi-final in 2010.
Our biggest sporting stages are filled with incredible stories of sacrifice, heartbreak and triumphs. These stories can be a large part about what makes sports fans so emotionally involved in the game and heightens interest from less passionate fans - a key ingredient in Olympics coverage.
Pickett's story as a mid-season recruit is dramatic: he served jail time in his teenage years then turned his life around for his partner and four children; while, on the football field, the 27-year-old was repeatedly overlooked for the AFL draft.
WATCH BELOW: The Courier sports journalist Kyle Evans chat with Tigers, including debutant Marlion Pickett, in the AFL Grand Final players parade
This is the kind of emotive story where you cannot help but hope Pickett gets to taste glory. His shock selection has added to the anticipation for the Big Dance at the MCG on Saturday.
It is a great sub-plot but really, this move is about the team vying to get the job done and earning the coveted silverware.
Pickett has been called up to fill a role for the Tigers, vacated by the injured Jack Graham.
Premiership wingman Kamdyn McIntosh and midfielder Jack Ross were both pulled from Richmond's Victorian Football League grand final line-up last Sunday as potential replacements and in the end, will play in neither flag decider.
Pickett, a Norm Goss medallist for best on ground in the Tigers' win against Williamstown, could earn two medals in two weeks. The Tigers deemed him the best fit for what they need - courageous, flexible, experienced and seemingly match-ready.
Hooper, who spent three years in the AFL system before VFL stints with the now-defunct North Ballarat Roosters and Werribee, said Pickett would be well-schooled to step up, knowing exactly what was expected of him. Even after only four months at Tigerland.
"He's a mature 27 years old...My advice is to be calm and do what he has to do," Hooper told Press Box. "You dream of playing an AFL game but in AFL finals everything goes up: higher expectations, play is quicker and the crowd is louder.
"You're suddenly playing in front of 80,000 to 100,000 people.
"I didn't hear the crowd during play. Before the game there is the roar but after that moment, when you cross the white line, you're just focused on the footy."
I didn't hear the crowd during play. Before the game there is the roar but after that moment, when you cross the white line, you're just focused on the footy.Andrew Hooper, Western Bulldogs
Every Tiger and Giant who steps on the field tomorrow will have an amazing tale behind them. But football is also about tactics and Pickett's promotion is a calculated move by Tiger coaches.
Nevertheless, AFL Grand Final day can create fairytales and it will be interesting to see which heroes emerge.
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