Family, new job, Grand Final success: Hickey's happy homecoming

HOME is where the heart is, and for Gold Coast's Jordann Hickey it was also where she went during the AFL Women's off-season to refine her game.

The robust Suns forward had barely got off a plane at Coolangatta following Gold Coast's semi-final loss to Fremantle in March, when she was back in the air two days later to head to the Northern Territory as COVID-19 began to grip the country.

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"I went straight back to Alice [Springs]," she told womens.afl.

"My family thought it best if we were together, because it was very much the unknown."

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Kalinda Howarth sets up teammate Jordann Hickey for her first ever AFLW goal

After spending three months at home, Hickey returned to the east coast to find work and play in the QAFLW competition to prepare for her second season with the Suns.

But with employment difficult to come by at that time, and an ankle injury suffered in her first match, she was back to the middle of the country by July.

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It was the best move of the 25-year-old's off-season.

From there she flourished, finding a job as a receptionist in youth and family services and lacing up the boots for AFL NT outfit Rovers.

"It was a good period where I could reset, refresh," Hickey said.

"My job was a lot of fun, some of the kids were quite cheeky and made my day. It was a good line of work and pretty relaxed."

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It was Hickey's footy that took a big leap forward though, helping her team to its first ever premiership with a best-on-ground performance in the Grand Final.

She said Rovers had been a huge help in her development, allowing her to train with the club's men's teams.

"I think that's where a lot of my skills lifted," Hickey said.

"I was training both nights with the men and then when finals came around, I still did one session with them.

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"Their intensity is a lot higher and pressure is a lot higher, so I had to be quicker with decision-making and my intent at the footy.

"I had to be cleaner with my skills. I think it really lifted my game. They didn't hold back, they didn't want to lose to a girl.

"They were very supportive, I'm very lucky with my club back home."

Jordann Hickey joined the Suns after being drafted to the Demons. Picture: AFL Photos

The Grand Final success is something she is hoping to bring back to the Suns.

"It was one of the best games I've played in a long time," she said.

"I played a good brand of footy, ran all day, marked, applied pressure – just played real team footy.

"It gave me some confidence coming into this pre-season. I've seen my game improve a lot and can't wait to see how I compare to my teammates and the rest of the competition again."