IT'S SAFE to say it's been a complex few weeks for Katherine Smith.
She (along with manager Alex Saundry) has been negotiating a move to an interstate club, working out the logistics around shifting uni and her casual job, and trying to rehab a torn ACL while under stage four COVID-19 restrictions in Melbourne.
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But the 21-year-old is now locked into a two-year deal with Greater Western Sydney after four seasons and 21 games at Melbourne.
She will do as much of her degree (Bachelor of Exercise Science and Business Management at Deakin) as she can online and transfer if needed and is working out an arrangement for her casual job at rebel.
"It was a very big decision, to move my whole entire life as well, but I'm super happy and really excited to start my journey up there," Smith told womens.afl.
"It was very mutual between me and Melbourne. For me, it was a lifestyle decision, to have a change of environment, and a new challenge on and off the field.
"I've always really respected the way the Giants have gone about it.
"When you have a coach like Alan (McConnell) who has years of experience and is just an absolute jet, and then the leadership group with (Alicia) Eva and some of the other players, it's a really exciting list and a competitive team, and I wanted to be a part of it."
Despite her young age, Smith has long been involved in football in Melbourne and has plenty of pre-existing connections to the Giants' squad.
"I played with Pepa (Randall) and 'Priv' (Rebecca Privitelli) at Eastern Devils, and then knew Lou(ise Stephenson) and Eva through my Vic Metro journey," she said.
"I've also played against Alyce Parker and Erin McKinnon a lot in national championships.
"I've always looked up to Eva and have a lot of respect for her. I first met her and 'Priv' when I was about 12, so I'm excited to play with those girls again."
Smith is now nearly eight months into her recovery from a torn ACL in her right knee, suffered during training in late December.
"This is my first major injury, and it's probably the best year to do your knee, to be honest, because I'm not missing any footy," she said with a laugh.
"Due to COVID and the lockdown, it's been really difficult to have that consistent one-on-one contact with the strength and conditioning coaches, but Melbourne have been great.
"Having four other girls – Shae Sloane, Sarah Lampard, Ainslie Kemp and Maddy Guerin – all going through the same thing meant it was easy to rally together, train when we could and talk about what we're going through."
The quintet formed their own "Fight Club" – complete with its own group chat – and worked on their boxing during their recovery, but the lockdown has restricted both group training and different forms of rehab.
"Being surfers, 'Sloaney' and I were big into swimming, until the pools shut," Smith said.
"We then started beach swimming, but then that got shut down too. So I bought a boxing bag, which has been a good relief and is keeping me busy."
Also occupying her time during lockdown is five-month old border collie Ziggy, who has captured the hearts of the Smiths.
"My family said it the move was probably the opportunity I'd been searching for and being close to the beach is also something I'm really excited about. It's only an hour trip, too, so there'll be flights up and down," she said.
"But they'll probably miss my puppy more than me."