An ACL injury in mid-2018 ruined Georgia Breward’s chances of being drafted that year.
But 12 months on, the 19-year-old has seen her dream realised with the Gold Coast SUNS after being selected with club’s last pick in the 2019 NAB AFLW Draft.
Watching the draft with her family at home, Breward said there were a mixture of emotions in the air as she waited in anticipation for her name to be called.
“I was still nervous because there’s been a couple of things in the making for that day to come,” Breward told SUNS Media.
“I’ve been working really hard for that to happen and my name to be called out.
“(When it did) it was basically just relief honestly, a lot of relief.
“I’m kind of a highly-strung person when it comes to that kind of thing and it mattered a lot to me.
“Especially last year missing out and a lot of unknown about what was going to happen after my knee surgery, it was just a major relief for me to hear my name called out.”
Breward suffered the season-ending injury in the first match of the 2018 NAB AFLW Under 18 Championships between NSW/ACT and Tasmania.
Playing for NSW/ACT, she went in to win the football when an opponent knocked her from the side, causing her knee to buckle backwards.
What’s even more surprising is Breward didn’t actually know the extent of her injury until almost a month later.
“I thought I’d just hyper-extended my knee but a month later I finally got a scan on it and it showed I had actually snapped my ACL,” Breward said.
“I had no idea.
“I had a couple of physios look at it and do the testing for the knee which was quite sore.
“It didn’t indicate the usual signs for having torn my ACL and I was able to run on it and even hop on it quite normally.
“It was a bit frustrating because I lost a month of my rehab in that period, but at least I found out and didn’t make it even worse.”
She had surgery to repair her knee a couple of weeks later, then began the arduous rehabilitation program.
“I did about six months of my rehab at home alone, “ she said.
“In my head I didn’t want to do things too fast and risk a setback.
“I could have probably got into doing things a bit sooner but I went on the careful side because I didn’t really have many resources.”
It wasn’t until Breward was invited to take part in Gold Coast’s Summer Academy program in December when she started to accelerate her rehab.
“In that first part of Summer Academy I was going up and wasn’t even running – I actually just went to watch,” she said.
“Then I did a bit of boxing and started to get involved with some running and handpassing drills whenever I could.
“Then for that first chunk of the Academy program I was on the sideline just running while the girls were training.”
While you might think it was difficult for Breward to watch on without taking part, she actually saw it a different way.
“It was tough but it was tougher not being around that environment at all,” she explained.
“I didn’t have anyone to really talk to or just be around a football environment for those first six months so I was just really keen to get up there and just be able to talk to the girls.
“I think mentally that’s really important to be able to check in with them.
“It was a good experience and I think I learnt great patience.”
Living in New South Wales’ Northern Rivers area, Breward would travel up to three hours to reach the Gold Coast.
During the Summer Academy she would make the trip two times a week.
When she was playing her club football for Coolangatta it would be three.
She says it shows just how keen she was to get back into a football environment as she recovered from her injury.
“It was very lonely the first six months,” Breward said.
“I had my family which was great and they’ve been really great throughout this whole rehab journey.
“Dad would drive up with me most times because he didn’t like me doing long trips in the car by myself so I’m really thankful to him for that as well.”
The ACL was Breward’s first serious injury.
She missed the end of the QAFLW season in 2018 and almost all of the 2019 season.
Her comeback game was in the final round of the season this year, and she couldn’t wait to get back out there after 13 months on the sidelines.
“I got onto field and don’t remember the first five minutes,” she said.
“I’ve seen the vision and I think I got a tackle and then was on after that.
“I was desperate to get the footy in my hands.”
After finally getting drafted to the SUNS on Tuesday, Breward can’t wait to get stuck into her first AFLW pre-season.
The plan is to relocate to the Gold Coast in the coming months before starting a university course in occupational therapy in February.
With Gold Coast’s inaugural list of 30 locked in for 2020, Breward said there were exciting times ahead.
“I think it’s a great bunch of girls and I’m really excited,” she said.
“It should be a really good pre-season and it’s going to be a great experience.
“The knee’s perfectly healthy, there’s no problem with that so I’m ready.”
How good is this! https://t.co/08Ou8ThUkf— Gold Coast Suns (@GoldCoastSUNS) October 24, 2019