I agree that you can't have passengers for finals, but NN 55-60% TOG is normal. if he is able to perform at a high level, for his usual amount of game time it doesn't make him a passenger.There is an old football saying: "you cant have passengers for finals"
Or more to the point, you cant have a guy playing half a grand final, no matter how good he is.
If Nics current fitness base permitted him to play say, 75-80% of game time when he came back, it might be a different story.
But the reality is, even if we get him back in time, he will be playing 50% of game time, max.
And this is compounded where the guy has played very little football over the last 2 years, period
I am not saying we are a better team without him, but you simply cannot have a man miss that much football, and come back for a cutthroat final to be spending half the game on the bench.
When Alistair Clarkson brought back Cyril Rioli for the grand final having missed a ton of football prior, off the top of my head, i think he played 76% of total game time that day. And that's the difference.
If there is any doubt at all, i would much rather have Nic complete a full preseason and be cherry ripe for 2020
Because the cold, harsh reality is, even though we are a better team when he is fit and firing, we won the grand final without him
If he isnt fit, and doesnt make it, its not the end of the world.
But agree with your sentiment - if he is struggling to get to 50% TOG and physically can't have an impact then we leave him out. I reckon he would make that call himself though if it came to the crunch.