Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan has offered insight into the club's thinking behind keeping key defender Jack Payne out of the Lions' lineup for the grand final despite the breakout backman being available.

Payne was required to prove his fitness to club trainers and selectors in recent days in the build-up to the season's decider, having battled with an ankle injury that forced him out of Brisbane's preliminary final win against Carlton less than a week ago.

His replacement, Darcy Gardiner, managed to keep Coleman Medal winner Charlie Curnow to just the one goal to help his side book their place in the grand final for the first time in 19 years, with the reinforcement's performance creating a selection dilemma for Fagan days later.

With Payne overcoming an ankle injury, the Lions would need to decide whether to change a preliminary final-winning formula and risk bringing Payne back in for just his second game in five weeks, or name a potentially underdone defender who has featured in 20 more games in 2023 alone.

Fagan decided on the former, not wanting to risk Payne's inclusion given the 23-year-old's appearance in the qualifying final win over Port Adelaide has been his only game in over a month.

When questioned on the decision to name Gardiner and head into the grand final unchanged at selection, Fagan told SEN of the reasons why and said Payne would be understanding of the call.

"There's always hard luck stories in Grand Finals," Fagan said.

"For Jack, it was just difficult because it's all about timing sometimes and the truth is if he played tomorrow, it'd be his second game in five weeks. He's only played one game in five weeks and he wasn't able to train fully until Thursday.

Jack Payne during the round 22 AFL match between St Kilda and Brisbane on August 12, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

"He worked his backside off to give himself a chance, there's no doubt about that. it just felt like not the right thing to do to throw him into a Grand Final on the back of one full training session in three weeks.

"As tough as that call is, we had to make it. I think Jack Payne will become one of the top-line defenders in the competition over the next 10 years.

"I'm pretty sure he understands why we made the call we did."

Payne has been named among the emergencies for Brisbane alongside Jarryd Lyons, James Tunstill and Darcy Fort.

Lyons, who has held the sub role in both of Brisbane's finals so far this series, is likely to resume his duties as the fifth interchange option for the grand final.

The Lions will announce their tactical sub an hour prior to Saturday's opening bounce of 2:30pm (AEST).