A badly broken collarbone has been agonising for Barellan coach Alex Lawder in more ways than one.
The Two Blues coach suffered the injury in the third quarter of their narrow loss to Temora two weeks ago, requiring days in hospital in Canberra upon his return, including surgery due to four fractures in the bone.
The pain has been twofold.
"Shattering, really, especially in the Temora game - we went down by eight points," Lawder said.
"We're just so close in so many games. We're not getting blown off the park, we seem to be in games and it's just that same old adage of those lapses.
"So obviously to go down, I'm disappointed. I'm trying to do my best, just for the town and community of Barellan. They deserve a little bit of luck, something to go our way.
"It feels like those line-ball decisions, the bounce of the ball, all those things seem to go the other way."
The Two Blues will have James McCabe back for Saturday's big game against Coleambally, who have sprung a surprise, including co-coach Curtis Steele, who had thought his season was over due to a knee injury.
The victors could avoid the wooden spoon while Barellan are busting for their first home win since 2018.
"You don't want to shy away from the importance of the game," Lawder said.
"We haven't notched one up at home this year... so it has been a goal. It is a big game and I think everyone understands that.
"But our focus in every game is that four-quarter effort."
Injuries mounted - including to former coaches Sean Browning and Matt Irvin - and Barellan have used a staggering 44 players in seniors this year.
They also lost Melbourne-based ruckman Mitch Gorman to COVID-19 lockdown complications.
Lawder's season is obviously over but he'd love to see the Two Blues add to their two wins (at Temora and Coleambally) this week. They then tackle minor premiers Marrar in round 18.
"It's disappointing not playing. I just want to get some success for the people. It does sap them, continually losing... I feel like we built really nicely this year and we're playing some good footy but we're just struggling to take that last step," Lawder said.
Lawder insists his injury won't end his career.
"I was lying in bed in the hospital thinking, I'm not scared to go back and play footy. No, I'll be back, I love it too much," Lawder said.
If anything, the stint at Barellan is inspiring the Canberra-based Lawder to extend his playing career.
"Our president at Barellan (Jeff Mickan) is still running around, in the ruck, at 44 years old.
"He's an inspiration. He's a machine with his performances at his age. He hasn't missed a game this year."
Mickan, Matt Wells, and Sam Foley are the only three players to feature in all 14 games. Only nine other players have featured in a dozen games or more.
Coleambally's only change for Saturday is 333-gamer Shane Pound who is unavailable. The Blues hope he'll be back for a record-breaking final round next week.
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