365 days between games, Western Bulldogs forward Deanna Berry couldn’t wait to return to the action on Sunday afternoon against Collingwood.
Despite some initial pre-game nerves – which quickly wore off once the ball had been bounced – the 23-year-old was eager to get to Victoria Park, even if it meant she was there three hours before she needed to be.
“I was very nervous beforehand and just wanted to get to the ground - I think I said to Ellie a few times ‘come on, let’s go’ and it was probably 10 o’clock in the morning,” she told westernbulldogs.com.au.
“Once I got to the ground it was okay, and then it was just that last warm-up where I was a bit scattered. I did a few deep breaths and then once the ball went up it was ‘let’s play footy’.
“My body is feeling good – there’s no real sore spots around the knee, but there are probably some other spots around the body that are sore.
“Overall though I’m feeling pretty good - I’m ready to go again.”
Spending majority of the 2021 COVID-19 lockdown rehabilitating her ACL injury, Berry compared her rehab journey to surfing, and thanked her support network for helping her through the year.
“It was a long process, but I learnt a lot about myself and about things in rehab around the knee,” she said.
“The ups and downs just came with it – I liked to use the analogy that I learnt to surf, so I rode every wave and at the end got to do the Rip Curl Pro, which was playing (against Collingwood) on the weekend.”
Teammate Bonnie Toogood broke the news of Berry’s return in last Friday’s team meeting, with the help of development coach Kirby Bentley.
“When I looked in the box - I had my mask on so no-one could see, but I was smiling ear-to-ear and just laughing. I thought ‘these idiots have stitched me up big-time’,” Berry said.
“I was rapt – Bon was someone who helped me through it a lot. I remember in the early days, she came over and helped me make protein balls, and made sure I was rehabbing correctly.
“I wouldn’t want anyone else letting me know I’d be playing on the weekend.”