ADELAIDE superstar Erin Phillips says it was her love of football that drove her to push aside thoughts of retirement and get through the tough times in her recovery from a torn ACL.
The 34-year-old, two-time AFLW best and fairest will make her highly anticipated return in Sunday's Grand Final rematch with Carlton at Hisense Stadium.
Phillips admitted there was a touch of irony that she was making her comeback against the Blues since it was against them in last season's decider that she ruptured her ACL in the third quarter of the 45-point victory.
The Crows co-captain had hoped to return in round one, however a couple minor setbacks in her recovery, including having a scope before Christmas, delayed her return.
However, Phillips said getting back on the field made all the sacrifices worthwhile, including completing her rehab while working in the US last year.
"There were definitely days it did seem really hard," Phillips said.
I haven't put any standards on my own personal performance other than just playing my guts out
"Somedays I feel like my leg was 100 per cent, feel like I could play the next day, the very next day, I feel like I was two weeks back.
"It's definitely a mental challenge and days where I felt god this is really tough, but I love footy, I've always loved footy, I've grown up in a football family.
"It's kind of been who I am for my whole life.
"Whether I play one game or 20 more games, I'll just be glad that all the rehab to this point was worth it."
Phillips isn't putting any lofty expectations on herself on her return other than to give it her all.
"I definitely think there will be a few rusty weeks leading in," she said.
"I haven't put any standards on my own personal performance other than just playing my guts out and leaving it all out on the field, playing every single game like it could be your last."
Phillips is expecting to play a similar role as she has during the previous three seasons, shifting between the midfield and attack.
She said any nerves she has about her knee will be gone after the warm-up, but she also trusts the work she has put in during her lengthy rehab.
"That's why you do match sim and training to get those nerves and doubts out," she said.
"You do start dealing with that mental aspect, it's been 327 days since the surgery, so I've had that many days to not be nervous and stay confident.
"It's just a matter of getting the warm-up, getting amongst it and feeling good."
The Crows will also welcome back ruck Rhiannon Metcalfe from a torn ACL, while defender Courtney Cramey is out with a calf injury.