A FULL year after suffering a nasty Lisfranc injury in her right foot, Chloe Molloy will be lining up for Collingwood in Sunday's VFLW Grand Final against Western Bulldogs.
Molloy's foot was caught under her in a tackle in last year's VFLW preliminary final, and subsequent surgery left the 20-year-old in a moonboot for three months.
She had stormed the AFLW competition in her first season during the early months of 2018, winning the NAB AFLW Rising Star and her club's best and fairest.
But the 2019 AFLW season saw Molloy in the coaches' box, taking an opposition analysis role and watching on as the Magpies won just one match.
"I had times where (mentally), it seemed like I was never going to walk again, I was never going to run the same, I was never going to be able to kick the footy," Molloy told womens.afl.
"To reflect back over the highs and lows of the whole year that's passed and I'm here now in the week of a Grand Final, it's pretty amazing.
"I've gone from an absolute low in my sporting life to now an absolute high. It's just two different sides of the sport, an injury to a Grand Final, it's the ultimate pit to the ultimate peak."
It wasn't just the three months of being unable to walk unaided that wore Molloy down, it was the associated aches and pains that came with it.
"The muscle atrophy to my calf meant it was a chicken leg, it was so skinny and I lost it so quickly," Molloy said.
"My left leg was also compensating for my right. It probably took me two months to start walking properly. The moonboot puts your hip and back out.
"All these other muscle parts are compensating for when you have the moonboot, then they start to ache and you have to fix them as well, it's this big vicious cycle. I had a few back issues because I was non-weight bearing for so long. It took five or six months to just get back to running."
Molloy has played nine games this season in a variety of positions – including the middle and up forward, the All Australian defender's original position – since making her return on June 1 against NT Thunder.
"I've got more bruises than I did playing as a defender, definitely more ice baths than my first AFLW season, but I love the midfield. I'm just playing off instinct at the minute and playing alongside Sharni Layton – whose development is astonishing – and Bri Davey is awesome.
"I gave up something pretty big (basketball) to pursue my footy career, so when that was taken away from me, it was really hard. But when it was given back to me and I was able to play again, I was like a child.
"The first game back was just see ball, get ball. Don't worry about the structures, my player, I just wanted to be given the ball and kick it.
"You can kind of get caught up in the competitiveness of it all but being out for so long, I was able to reflect on why I play footy. When I came back, I remembered why, because I was so happy."
The Magpies take on the Bulldogs in the VFLW Grand Final at Ikon Park at 11.35am AEST.