Nerves are part and parcel of professional sport, but even 714 days out of the football couldn’t shake the self-confidence of Jess Duffin.
Stepping away from the game to have a child, Duffin made her long-awaited return to the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos lineup in last weekend’s victory over Carlton.
While her comeback to AFLW football was full of emotions, it was ultimately successful as Duffin showed she hasn’t lost her touch, finishing with 11 disposals in a composed performance off the half-back line.
“The game might’ve changed, but I know I haven’t as a player,” Duffin told North Media.
“It was pretty emotional, just doing all the hard work to try and get out there.
“I was confident in my own ability, but the game has moved forward. Until you go out there you don’t really know how you’re going to do.”
Despite some extra nerves heading into the clash, Duffin says getting her hands on the football was key to settling down early.
“You don’t really understand what’s going to happen to your body after having a baby,” she said.
“The first quarter my legs felt like jelly and I felt them buckling under me a little bit … it took a little bit of time for the nerves to fade away.
“When you get your first kick and you first clean possession you forget about it a little bit … it was good to get the first game out of the way.”
With the victory pushing North into sixth spot on the ladder, Duffin hopes it can provide a strong platform the team can use to attack the rest of the season from.
“In this competition you never know what you’re going to get … every AFLW team can take points off you so you have to be on your game.”
“This week we’ve got Richmond and they’re going to bring the pressure since they’re coming off a really good win.”