Greater Western Sydney head coach Alan McConnell has admitted that he was among those who wondered if Cora Staunton could return to action from a horrific double-leg break suffered last May.
Staunton broke both the tibia and fibula bones in her right leg when playing for UNSW-ES Bulldogs in the AFL Sydney League last May, placing not just her availability for the 2020 AFLW season in doubt, but also her sporting career.
McConnell has revealed that the Mayo legend, who turned 38 last week, used those doubts as motivation and having already made brief appearances for her club LGFA side Carnacon, is well ahead of schedule in her rehab and set to start the AFLW season on February 8 against Gold Coast.
That comes as a huge boost to GWS, as Staunton’s partnership with Donegal powerhouse Yvonne Bonner is a key ingredient as they look to make the finals for the first time.
It is a stunning recovery and McConnell is delighted.
“She’s in really good shape,” said the Giants supremo.
“There’s a few demons to exorcise in terms of getting out onto the track and doing it, but physically she’s way ahead of what anybody had expected.
“I crossed all my fingers and toes and I knew that she’d leave no stone unturned, but she was probably doing six hours of rehab, six days a week, from the day she got out of hospital. That part of it I never had any doubts about.
“She even said to me, ‘You doubted me’, but I told her I was just being realistic.
“I’ve seen this kind of injury before and you’re playing Russian roulette with the rest of your career. She’s a great role model for the rest of our team, as to what it takes to be a special athlete.
“The good thing is that because she did the rehab here in Australia, and this year all of our girls stayed around over winter, so they got to see what makes her the champion that she is.”