It’s been a long road to recovery for Alicia Janz.
The 177cm ruck first tore her meniscus in July 2019, with plans to be out on field by the beginning of the 2020 season.
But heartbreak struck again, with a second tear to her meniscus occurring just before Christmas in December.
And, in what’s been an unlucky run, the 2019 recruit was once again sidelined with a tear to the calf, 10 weeks out from the Eagles’ second season.
“Obviously you want to be out on the field and playing, and with the amount of effort and time you put toward training and rehab you want to have some kind of reward for it.” Janz said.
“At the same time… I was able to contribute off the field… so there was always something to do and still feel a part of the girls on the field as well.”
This much is certain, with Janz making history in 2020 as the first person to receive the ‘Best Club Person’ award … without actually playing a game.
The award is for an individual player who displays leadership on and off the field and gives back to the wider community, as well as the club itself.
“Not being able to contribute to the girls and being out on the field, I made it my purpose to contribute to the club in other ways.” Janz said.
“I wouldn’t have this award if it wasn’t for everyone else.”
Now, Janz will have her opportunity to join the girls on the turf in their match-up between GWS this Sunday.
After being named as an emergency last week, you can tell she’s been hungry to finally lace up her boots.
“As soon as that siren goes, I know I’ll be playing.” Janz said.
“I’ve had a bit of excitement, and I’ve had to calm myself down… that was even when I just got named as an emergency (laughs).
“But I hope it will just be like any other game, it’s just getting right into it, and I hope just firing up my own teammates as well.
“After the journey I’ve had, I think that they would know it will probably be a big thing for me to just be out there and be able to help out in some way."
And the help will be reciprocated, with partner-in-ruck Parris Laurie.
Janz hopes to be back in the midfield over the next few weeks, starting out in full-forward this coming Sunday.
“It’ll be really good to be able to interchange with Parris, it’s been a long time, so I’ll be on managed loads; it’ll be nice for Parris to come out and take some of those big hits for me.
“We train really well together… we will tag team rather than compete against each other.”
Janz now packs her bags for Blacktown, for her first game in almost two years.
She’ll debut alongside South Australian product Lauren Gauci, who will be coming into the side as a dangerous half-back.
Gauci had also suffered an injury set-back for the first three weeks of the season, but is ready to join in the action this weekend.
“When one of us gets that call-up, it’s like we’ve all succeeded, or helped and been along in this journey.” Janz said.