South Warrnambool captain Ally O'Connor has defied the odds and made the Victorian Fury squad again.
This time the 21-year-old, who lives in Geelong, had to overcome significant hurdles.
"This is probably one of the biggest achievements I've had and I've been in the squad before but I think this year's a bit special," she said.
"Just because I did have that setback with my autoimmune disease, the reactive arthritis, so I was out for two years. I hadn't played netball for two years - this my first year back.
"To be selected this year, I think it would be my greatest achievement to date."
O'Connor has been selected for the 15-player squad - which will eventually be reduced to a 12-player team - ahead of the Australian Netball Championships (ANC) which will be in Traralgon from September 11-19.
The ANC, which has replaced the Australian Netball League, is a feeder competition for Australia's premier league - Suncorp Super Netball.
O'Connor said, due to the coronavirus pandemic, selection was based on performance in the Victorian Netball League rather than trials.
She has been playing for Geelong Cougars as well as the Roosters this year.
O'Connor's world was rocked when she woke up in pain on Christmas Day in 2018.
She couldn't walk on her left foot and soon had pain in her wrist as well.
The talented netballer was diagnosed with reactive arthritis and couldn't sleep because of the pain.
She played games for the Fury as an 18-year-old in 2018 but her hopes of consolidating in 2019 were dashed because of her illness.
"I couldn't actually go to any trainings or anything, I was still named as a training partner even though I couldn't attend any of the actual selections," she said.
O'Connor's passion for netball grew when she was sidelined and she was determined to get back on court.
She said she made a return to netball quicker than she had expected.
Her first official match back was Hampden league round one with the Roosters.
She wasn't expecting to play with the Cougars championship level team this year either.
"I wasn't expecting to be in that team at all, I was just expecting to train and see how I go and see if my foot and wrist pulled up all right," she said.
"But so far it's been amazing."
O'Connor made the most of her experience on the sidelines - weather she was watching Super Netball, the Fury, Geelong Cougars or South Warrnambool.
"I think it was a real benefit for me, I was able to analyse the game in different ways to what I had been before," she said.
O'Connor said her reactive arthritis hadn't troubled her too much this year.
"So far so good, it lays dormant in your system," she said.
"It can come back up but it's rare, if I get another bacterial infection I just have to be careful.
"It is dormant at the moment, I think I've been as good as I can be, my left ankle is a little bit weaker but I just focus on that - I do special taping for that.
"My left wrist - I do struggle with sometimes but luckily with netball you don't necessary need to use your left wrist as much.
"It's just keeping an eye on the ankle but it's giving me no troubles as of yet."
O'Connor is grateful to the south-west community for the overwhelming support she has received.
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