Hawthorn's Luke Hodge says he would have been "useless" as a player and captain had he tried to defy illness and play in Saturday's AFL preliminary final.
Struck down by a severe virus and urged by a doctor not to consider lining up, Hodge was forced to watch from home as the Hawks squeezed into this Saturday's grand final showdown with Sydney.
He believes he has now recovered but admits he still needs to rebuild his health this week before he is 100 per cent fit.
Hodge was bedridden last weekend with a fever which forced him to call a doctor to his home.
In the lead-up to the preliminary final win over Adelaide, Hodge said he initially felt he could play, before the full force of the virus left him on Saturday when he "physically couldn't get out of bed to go to the game".
"I started to get crook on Thursday night and I came to train on Friday and felt okay," he said.
"My energy levels were okay, they weren't too bad.
"Then I got hit again on Friday night and was pretty much in bed from 7.30 Friday night, then called the doctor about nine o'clock on Saturday morning.
"I just couldn't get out of bed, I was going from freezing to the sweats and then had a fever."
Hodge said being unable to eat for a 24-hour period helped make up his mind.
"I thought if I had gone and tried to play I would have been useless to the boys," he said.
"We had three fit emergencies who were raring to go so I thought the best thing to do - and the doctor pretty much pushed that way - was to let one of them come in and play."
Hodge was quarantined from the rest of the team for four days before returning to train on Monday.
"Hopefully all goes well and it won't be coming back this week," he said.
"This week I'm just worried about getting the body right and getting some food back in the guts."
The courageous captain praised the decision by defender Brent Guerra to rule himself out of the grand final with a hamstring injury.
"Honestly in his heart he knew he couldn't get through the rigours of a grand final," Hodge said.
"For a person who loves footy and would do anything to play in a grand final, for him to say that, it's a great effort from him and it just goes to show how much he does care about the fellows."