Back or forward? Izzy's just happy to be back in the hunt

FOR THE first time in a long time, young Western Bulldogs star Izzy Huntington has some continuity with her body, and she couldn't be more excited.

Huntington's tale of injury has been well told – a broken leg, ruptured ACLs in both knees and an assortment of other problems – but now, knock on wood, the 21-year-old seems to have turned the corner.

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Last season was a huge breakthrough for her.

Following a move from attack to defence, Huntington was named an All-Australian, won the NAB AFL Women's Rising Star award and claimed the Susan Alberti Award as the Bulldogs' best and fairest winner.

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Isabel Huntington has been awarded the 2020 NAB AFL Women's Rising Star

And while the COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne was awful on so many fronts, the absence of a VFLW season allowed Huntington to continue building her confidence.

"I've got no issues at all," she told womens.afl.

"Playing a full VFL season off the back of full AFL season probably wouldn't have happened anyway, so it was a blessing in disguise in that regard.

"It allowed me to focus on the fundamentals of my body

"I think I've played 10 games in four years, so it's been fairly interrupted to say the least.

"The continuity has been awesome, and it does wonders for your confidence, just playing a game without having to consider knees, ankles and change of direction.

"It gets to a point where it's a subconscious thing, but hopefully I'm moving past that."

Isabel Huntington in action for the Bulldogs in round one, 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

The former No.1 draft pick is a natural forward, but says coach Nathan Burke's move to push her back last season was a masterstroke.

She said it gave her freedom to go for marks (she was ranked first in the league for contested marks and second for intercepts) without being flooded with structure.

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But what happens in 2021 is anyone's guess.

"I was lucky to have some more experienced backs down there," Huntington said.

"I think cohesion is a huge thing in the back five, that communication is crucial.

"I've been training with the forwards so far this pre-season.

"I'm not fussed, I don't mind which end I'm at, but it's good to have flexibility, although it's a bit more fun doing snaps at training.

"It feels weird to not have to consider the injury aspects of it all.

"It's great to not have to worry about it and just focus on playing footy and focus on round one, which I haven't always been able to do."