Twelve months is a long time in football.
It’s been a particularly long time for Issy Grant, after an injury-interrupted first year as a Western Bulldogs player.
The 19-year-old’s last hit-out was an informal practice game against Richmond in early 2020 – where she arrived at Whitten Oval to realise the game was at Punt Road, and had to make a dash across town.
But Grant was in the right place at the right time on Saturday in the Bulldogs’ only official practice match ahead of the 2021 season, delivering a huge second half to push her case for an AFLW debut in a fortnight’s time against St Kilda.
“It was great to get on the track, have a bit of contact and a great hit-out against a really good side,” Grant said post-game.
“All of the girls have made me feel really comfortable.
“Not playing a game last season, I was very, very nervous coming into the game.
“Everyone got around me and made me feel confident, made me feel welcomed and made me feel like I belong. I’m really grateful for them being so supportive.”
The Bulldogs trailed Richmond by eight points at half time on Saturday, before finishing with a bang. They kicked five goals to one after the break to claim a 14-point win.
Grant played a big part in that second half turnaround, spending time up forward and across half back.
“It was intense – they came out very hard,” Grant said.
“They were very fierce at the beginning and we were really proud of ourselves for coming back towards the end and bringing that into our game.
“I think it will give us a bit of confidence, but also we know that it was just a practice match and Round 1’s another step up, so we’re very excited.”