Ballarat will apply for an exemption after two-time AFL premiership player Josh Gibson failed to qualify for the Ballarat Football Netball League finals series.
The BFNL has opted to stick with the three-game benchmark for finals eligibility its used in previous years, despite seven rounds of the 2021 home-and-away season being abandoned due to COVID lockdowns.
Gibson featured twice for the Swans this year, missing games through hamstring injuries and other commitments.
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His first game was a round seven win against East Point, which was followed by an appearance against Melton South the next weekend in which he aggravated his hamstring injury.
Had the home-and-away season not ended early, the champion Hawthorn defender would have been fit to return for the Swans' game against Redan this weekend, qualifying him for finals.
Clubs in all of the league's competitions can apply for an exemption on a case-by-case basis but will be required to show exceptional reasons why a player could not play three games during the home-and-away season.
BFNL general manager Shane Anwyl said some exemptions had been granted in the junior competitions, but noted the league was wary of denying a junior returning from a long-term injury the chance to play sport.
"We've had some requests based where clubs have approached us based on individual circumstances, but by and large, the three-game minimum will stay in place," Anwyl told The Courier.
"It has to be a pretty good argument on an individual basis as to why someone hasn't been able to reach their qualification.
"We've had a couple exemptions that we've granted but they've been more in reserves, under 19's and juniors and with long-term injuries.
"It's not something will we look at in a bulk measure."
East Point premiership player Jesse Baird will also be deemed ineligible for finals, having featured just twice for the Roos this season.
The 27-year-old has battled hamstring injuries all season, with nearly two months splitting his two appearances.
It's not all bad news for the reigning premiers, however.
Mid-season recruit Darren Jolly has scraped inside finals qualification.
The two-time AFL premiership player reached the three-game benchmark in what turned out to be the home-and-away season.
VFL pair Jordan Johnston and Joel Ottavi have both qualified with four games each.
It's a similar story for minor premier, North Ballarat.
The Roosters will be able to call on Collingwood-affiliated forward Sam Glover for finals after he played three games during the home-and-away season.
Two of Sunbury's interstate players, Alik Magin and David Kovacevic, have qualified but will hamstrung by travel restrictions.
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