After a career marred with injury, Brianna Green finally laces up the boots again after three years out of the game.
She will make her debut for West Coast in the Eagles’ season opener against the Adelaide Crows at Mineral Resources Park on Saturday afternoon.
After maintaining her health throughout her tenure in the WAWFL and junior pathways, her luck ran out once she was drafted in 2016.
Taken at pick 13 by the Fremantle Dockers, she played one game before a broken collarbone called curtains on her first season in 2017.
However, her resilience and grit shone as she made her return in the WAWFL, playing for East Fremantle, determined to get her career back on track.
But injury knocked her down again, sustaining a wrist injury that required season-ending surgery.
She threw herself into rehabilitation, working hard to ensure she was fit and firing for the commencement of the 2018 AFLW season, earning selection in the season opener against the Western Bulldogs.
The defender was prepared to line up for Collingwood in round two, however, this didn’t eventuate after she went down with a knee injury at training in the lead up.
After scans revealed an ACL rupture, she missed out on the first official footy fixture at Perth’s new home of football, Optus Stadium. Yet another injury shattered her dreams of playing a full season of AFLW.
After a wretched run of injuries since 2017, the 24-year-old began to question her place in the league.
With few games and limited experience at the top level under her belt, West Coast Eagles came knocking and offered her a lifeline, signing her on for two years in 2019.
She felt “very fortunate” for the opportunity to be a member of the West Coast’s inaugural women’s squad and play for a team she supported as a kid.
“It’s been perfect for me mentally, having a fresh start somewhere else,” she had told the Eagles’ website.
It’s been a continuous uphill battle with numerous training and rehabilitation sessions with AFLW strength and conditioning coaches Eric Mackenzie and Alivia Del Basso.
The opportunity to debut for West Coast’s in their inaugural season slipped through her fingers as the season came to a premature close due to COVID-19.
There’s a buzz of excitement among her teammates, with Emma Swanson, Isabella Lewis and Parris Laurie highlighting it and sharing their thoughts on the West Coast Eagles’ AFLW podcast The Inside Swoop.
Skipper Emma Swanson offered her support and expressed her admiration.
“I’m really excited to see her,” she said on the podcast.
“It’s been 1078 days since she last played a game of footy. She’s been whacked with injuries and I said to her this afternoon, I don’t think anyone should have to deal with what she’s had to deal with to play this game.”
“You really underestimate how long that is. That’s three years,” said first-year Isabella Lewis, emphasising the length and extent of her struggles.
Ruck Parris Laurie, who has been with Green during her Fremantle days, had nothing but praise for her attitude in her training and rehabilitation.
“Also, she goes in so hard, you would not know. There’s no resistance. It’s crazy. It’s amazing. But I just think from what she’s been through, she is just bull at a gate still and I love it,” she said on the podcast.
Saturday marks a new beginning for Green after a rocky start to her AFLW career. Hopefully, the grass is greener on the other side and she can have the long and successful career she deserves.