After getting a taste of what it’s like to be back on the field – albeit as a water runner – at the weekend, Ali Brigginshaw is looking forward to playing footy again.
With her BHP Premiership club Brothers Ipswich unable to field a team in the southeast Queensland-based Holcim Cup, Brigginshaw is set to pull on the boots for her former club Souths Logan Magpies this weekend.
“I feel really excited and I probably haven’t had that feeling for a while, just being around girls I know and it brings back a lot of old memories... the way Rob (Brough) coaches brings back old memories of the good times when I used to play with the old crew and how much fun we used to have,” the Souths Logan Magpies Women’s 20-year team member said.
“It will be interesting to see how Saturday goes, pulling on the jersey and running out, remembering that I am not Brothers.
“One thing I said to Rob (before I joined up), ‘I want to come play at Souths and can you talk to the leadership group and see what they think?’ and I think they were all on board straight away, so that was good to know that team backed and was supportive of me coming back into the team.
“I ran the water last week and they made me feel really welcome.”
It is a welcome return to the playing field for Brigginshaw, who suffered a syndesmosis injury during a pre-season trial match against the Magpies in February.
The Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons captain said since then, her recovery went well and she was grateful to be able to take the time it needed to heal properly.
“I feel good. The injury doesn’t even bother me at all... hasn’t even crossed my mind,” Brigginshaw said.
“I just wanted to give myself a good rest and I have worked really hard on getting stronger and fitter.
“It will be interesting to see how I go, being a bit heavier and stronger.
“But knowing I had a bit of time and I could get myself back to 100 per cent without rushing anything was probably the best thing I ever did.”
During her recovery, the Jillaroos captain also worked on building her strength; surprising herself with how much she enjoyed the training.
“I have never really done a set weights program, I have always just done your HIIT classes and your PT sessions, but I have focused a lot on basic strength movements and getting really strong,” Brigginshaw said.
“I also do reformer pilates as well every week. I think you just have to try and work on how you can be better.
“I can’t believe how much I have loved doing strength, ‘cause I have always just avoided it because I thought I don’t want to get any bigger, but I got over the fear of putting on weight and am just doing really powerful movements.
“Trying to move really fast with lots of weight has been really key to the training... I feel faster, I feel a lot faster, so we’ll just have to see what comes out of Saturday I guess.”
Off the field, Brigginshaw has been keeping busy with work and has also been enjoying more family time. However, there hasn’t been as much time to make preparations towards the planning of her upcoming wedding as she would have liked.
“I loved being home, I think I really needed it, life was getting very hectic there and to just spend six good weeks with family at home, it kind of gave me the refresh I needed, ‘cause there were times there where it was hard to do both,” Brigginshaw said.
“I think the kids loved it and they are asking now ‘are you going away now?’ and so I think they know it’s coming, but I am trying to get them to understand that it’s a part of my job and I do it for the family and for us.
“That (the planning for the wedding) got completely put on hold, we know we want to fly somewhere... we know what we want and it’s not hard, we just need to get it done.
“But it’s all coming together, (I’m) just juggling life and all of that, but I definitely think I am doing a much better job than I was doing.”
With football again about to enter the mix, including a State of Origin game to prepare for in November, Brigginshaw said she was excited about the opportunity the Holcim Cup presented to players.
She said she was also pleased with the way everyone had worked together to make it happen, including letting players from other clubs join in with rival teams in order to play.
“With the Holcim Cup, I know it’s a bit scattered... Tweed are in, Tweed are out; it’s been a bit of a hiccup, but no-one’s really complaining, they are just asking when they are playing and where they are playing and just getting on with it,” Brigginshaw said.
“That’s been something that is good, because I guess you could complain about not knowing who you are going to play until the week of, or we are only playing 30-minute halves... there’s lots of things people could be complaining about because it is different, but instead they are just getting on with the job and knuckling down and playing.
“You can see that if you watch it or if you are there, there is no niggles, there’s no fighting or people whinging about things... they are just getting on with it, it is what it is, games may run late... but we are all just getting it done and it’s been awesome.
“That’s what happens with the women’s game, if you are a girl and you want to play rugby league, there is always an opportunity for you.
“If you want to put in and be part of the team, there is always a team that will have you, there is no bad blood, everyone is welcoming and everyone just wants the best for the game.”