Freedom behind Brigginshaw's form
The elusive quest to be perfect is an aspiration Jillaroos five-eighth Ali Brigginshaw has ditched in favour of enjoyment on the footy field, and with stunning results.
Brigginshaw will line up in the women's World Cup final against New Zealand in Brisbane on Saturday in the best form of her life.
The 28-year-old has been included on the shortlist for the women's player of the tournament award with New Zealand stars Honey Hireme and Teuila Fotu-Moala. The winner will be announced on Wednesday at a luncheon in Brisbane.
Brigginshaw has been scoring, and setting up, tries and playing with freedom after re-evaluating her mindset.
"I think in the past I have always tried to be someone else, but now I feel like I am myself on the field and it has made me feel calmer," she told NRL.com.
"I was trying to over-think everything and trying to be perfect, but no-one is perfect.
"Now I am going out there and enjoying my footy and it is all coming together."
Earlier this season Brigginshaw was not certain she would be playing in the halves in the World Cup. She was used as a back-rower off the bench against New Zealand when the Jillaroos were trialling other halves combinations.
So she said she went away, refocused, and learned plenty from the experience.
"I am really happy to be back [in the halves]," she said.
"I just had to work on my game and my confidence out on the field and prove to the coaches that I was myself out there.
"But coming off the bench in the back-row gave me a feel for a new position and helped me understand that role.
"I have a back-rower outside me every game. I know what I want them to do, but playing in that position gave me an insight into what they do and how they can run their lines.
"So it was a really good experience and has helped with those combinations."
It was during the four-week lead-up to the World Cup that Brigginshaw's hunger to wear the Australian jersey gained momentum.
"We really knuckled down and got stuck in to our training program, and we all knew everyone was doing it," she said.
"By the time I got into camp I was just that excited to play some footy. All the hard work finally paid off after killing ourselves five days a week.
"That first game I was just so excited to get out there and get my hands on a football, because we had been training so hard without one."
Brigginshaw, who hails from Ipswich, won a World Cup in England in 2013 and missed 12 months during 2015/16 with a broken leg that left her wondering whether she would ever play again.
Now fully fit and firing, she said winning a World Cup final on home soil in front of her friends and family would be something special.
"This game and this opportunity may only come around once for me," she said.
"I am 28 now and you don't know what injuries will occur or what changes will occur in the coming years, so I am playing every game like it is my last.
"I just know that sitting on the sideline for a full year made me realise that if anything else was to happen it might be too hard to come back from."
Playing in such a unified and trusting team as the Jillaroos has made her comeback even more special.
"Everyone is buying into the same game plan, and as a half that is just a dream come true," she said.
"I know the girls trust me and the decisions I make on the field, whether I decide to pass or kick early.
"When you have that trust the team will be successful."
This article first appeared on NRL.com