K rock Football

Hannah’s debut worth the wait

Hannah Burchell in action for Geelong’s VFLW team. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Marcel Berens)

AS one of only two players to have appeared in all 31 of Geelong’s VFLW games, it’s no surprise Hannah Burchell is “itching” to get back into action after battling injury.

The 24-year-old will make her AFLW debut for the Cats in Friday night’s crucial clash with the GWS Giants in Canberra having shrugged off a quad injury that ruined her pre-season.

Having suffered two tears to her right quad, Burchell feared her chance to pull on the Hoops in 2019 had passed her by, especially when she was overlooked after returning to full fitness ahead of the win over Brisbane a fortnight ago.

“It was a real wake-up call when I was available for selection and it didn’t happen,” Burchell said.

“That was probably the lowest point in the season because you work so hard during rehab and you had milestones to tick off along the way.

“All going well, you’re available, so you put your best foot forward.

“Then, it doesn’t happen and it’s demoralising. It’s understandable in a team that had two really good wins that it’s hard to come back into a team like that.

“So, this week’s very exciting.”

AT SELECTION: ROUND 7

Burchell suffered the first tear while kicking during a warm-up in the first week of pre-season.

“I got it scanned and it was a low-grade tear to the right quad,” she said.

“So, I did all the rehab, built the strength through it, got my speed up, and then was able to go back into full training in the New Year.

“Then, during a match simulation, I kicked the ball at pace and it went again.

“I tore it in a slightly different spot but around the same tear, and it was a much more severe, which meant a 7-10 week turnaround.”

A win for Geelong over the Giants will ensure a top-two finish in Conference B and a spot in next week’s preliminary final.

A loss means the Cats will be reliant on winless Collingwood beating Brisbane or Carlton copping a hiding from the Western Bulldogs.

“It’s an exciting time to come back,” Burchell said.

“It’s a real motivator to play well and cement a spot as an outside midfielder and show I can play clutch games.

“Hopefully Friday night goes to plan and we can get the job done.”

Twitter: @tom_king79