Ipswich QRLW hopes take hit as skipper goes down
RUGBY LEAGUE: Brothers Ipswich's hopes of securing the inaugural QRLW title have been dealt a cruel blow with skipper Ali Brigginshaw sustaining a season-ending injury.
The Australian halfback suffered a syndesmosis tear to her left ankle while appearing for the blue and white in a trial against the Souths Logan Magpies at Davies Park on Sunday.
Attempting to tackle an opposing front rower, Brigginshaw felt her leg twist before the weight of her rival landed on the offending limb.
"It was weird," she said.
"I heard a few cracking noises then felt numbness in the bottom of my leg.
"I thought it was broken."
Rushed to the doctor post-game, Brigginshaw received clearance of any break but remained in pain.
An MRI on Monday revealed a syndesmosis tear (severely sprained ankle).
The superstar went under the knife today and will not be able to bear weight for six weeks. At that point she will undergo a second surgery before spending a fortnight in a moon boot. In total, she anticipates it will be eight to 10 weeks before she is running again in April.
The champion playmaker's absence is a huge loss for Brothers Ipswich, which had high hopes after joining with other RLI clubs to build a super-team capable of lifting the maiden QRLW trophy. When Brigginshaw broke the devastating news to her teammates at training on Tuesday it was met with widespread disappointment but also a staunch resolve to press on.
"They couldn't believe it," she said of their reaction.
"It was pretty disappointing, especially for the team.
"You train for eight to 10 weeks with the team to prepare only to get injured in a trial and ruled out for the season. I just said to them it is the competition's first year and we have got a team that can still win it. We'll get this season done and I'll be back next year."
Without their chief organiser there is a gaping hole in the halves but Brigginshaw has absolute faith in the woman to step into her shoes, Grace Griffin. Typically injected off the bench to offer relief to Jillaroos hooker Brittany Breayley, the replacement dummy half will slot into the halves.
"We have heaps of quality players and halves," Brigginshaw said.
"It just means someone else needs to step up."
Taking on the role of assistant coach, Brigginshaw will devote all her energy to helping the talent-rich side wherever possible.
In particular, she will take special interest in offering guidance to the all-important spine.
"I always get excited to see people perform and get better," she said.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how they go."
Searching for a silver lining, the two-time NRLW Premiership winner said her surgeon expected the damaged joint to return to full strength and her to be back on the field in time for State of Origin in June.
"That's always good to know," she said.
"That it will recover 100 per cent and be back to normal. I don't like the idea of having screws and plates in there but he is going to put a screw in and replace it with a band."
The inspirational Maroons captain will be back in action four to six weeks before the annual grudge match on June 19.
She conceded it had been a disrupted couple of seasons for the Queenslanders and said she was determined to get back on track and get her hands on the coveted shield.
With no women's rugby league fixtures scheduled for this period she will turn to touch football to sharpen her skills and build confidence ahead of the clash with the Blues. During her recovery, she plans to bulk up her upper body in the gym, enjoy being taken care of by her family and continue her community work in the region's classrooms with the Beyond Broncos Girls' program.
"Getting them to attend and enjoy school is our main focus," Brigginshaw said.
"I love it. Just having you there makes them want to. I don't want to stay at home and laze around. I want to keep going with life."
Brothers Ipswich contest another trial next week against Toowomba before coach Dean Daylight and Brigginshaw begin the unenviable task of reducing the squad to the line-up that will tackle the QRLW.