It is an incredible AFL comeback story, but Tom Lonergan does not believe a premiership on Saturday would mean more to him than any other Geelong player.

Perhaps that is because making it back onto the field was in itself a victory greater than anything else the courageous key forward can achieve in the game.

Since making his decision to return to football last year following the incident which cost him a kidney and nearly his life late in 2006, the 24-year-old has tried not to reflect too often on that moment.

“Once I made my decision to come back to footy I haven’t looked back,” Lonergan said during Friday’s grand final parade.

“I’ve tried not to think about it too much and just look forward to playing footy each week.”

Even once he returned, it was a long haul to earn and then nail down a spot in the senior side.

After making his comeback through the VFL in June last year, he played 12 games for the Cats’ reserves side, culminating in a six-goal haul which earnt him best afield honours in the grand final.

Early this season it was a battle between Lonergan and exciting youngster Tom Hawkins for the spot vacated by Nathan Ablett from the reigning AFL premiership side.

Hawkins held sway for the first nine rounds, before Lonergan broke into the side in round 10, his first AFL match for 21 months.

He has not been dropped since and feels comfortable as the second tall forward alongside spearhead Cam Mooney.

“I just try to play my role as much as I can, I don’t try to go out and kick heaps of goals week in, week out, because that’s not the way our forward line works,” Lonergan said.

“I just try to stick with the team structures and do what the team needs.”

He had little doubt he would be in the grand final side, despite media speculation he was one of several players under threat when Paul Chapman proved his fitness.

“I knew my part in the team and I just look forward to playing this week and getting out there tomorrow and showing everyone that we can play well together,” he said.

Teammates and coach Mark Thompson have commented on the inspiration provided by Lonergan’s presence, with Thompson saying recently he could not have imagined the man he visited in hospital in 2006 would play again.

“To make his way back into the team and play the sort of footy he has played, it’s just fantastic. I know there for a while he was just motivating the whole footy club because he’s that sort of special person around the club,” Thompson said.

But Lonergan said he had not set out to inspire anyone.

“It’s always great to hear that from a coach, I’m really happy with that,” he said.

“I don’t try to be any motivating factor, I just try to do my bit for the team and hopefully that’s good enough.”