Geelong forward Georgia Clarke admits the 2022 AFLW season provided challenges which both physically and mentally tested her.
With just the one game in the previous season, the Branxholme export couldn't find her groove, but now she's determined - and sternly focused - on banging the door down and making an impact ahead of her fifth season which kicks off on August 25.
"I wasn't at my best mentally and physically last season - just with a few different factors I struggled, with the whole COVID impact, it impacts people in different ways," she told The Standard.
"Just having that non-stop footy for two years, I hadn't had a chance to have a break and a mental break - having this little gap between this AFL season now I've been able to reset a little bit.
"I'm feeling a lot better now than this time last pre-season."
The 22-year-old said having a break after the AFLW season, which finished in April, had sparked something in her.
"It's week three or four now of pre-season, but I feel like I'm tracking really good now," she said.
"It's been a bit weird with a shortened pre-season, but taking a bit of a break off VFL, usually we go straight from AFL, it feels like a bit of a refresher.
"Usually at the end of the VFL season we're only a couple of weeks from getting back into AFL - it hasn't been too bad, we've allowed our bodies to get a rest.
"Last year I trained a bit back after my first game, so I'm hoping to train as a forward and string together games in the forward line.
"I've been training forward and training most pre-seasons forward since my second season but when the season comes it can sometimes flip around. So far everything is going well training wise as forwards. I do see myself being in that forward line going forward."
The upcoming AFLW season is set to be a historic one, with the league expanding to 18 teams for the first time and the former Greater Western Victorian Rebel said it was a privilege to be part of it.
"I came into Geelong in their inaugural season so to see the league grow from 10 teams and now to 18, it's crazy," she said.
"Hopefully we can see the games start increasing with it, that'd be awesome to play everyone. I'm excited to play the new teams and see the growth."
The crafty goalkicker said the prospect of playing at Warrnambool's redeveloped Reid Oval against newcomers Essendon on October 9 in front of friends and families would be an honour.
"I did see that on the fixture, and thought unless there was another Reid Oval, it has to be in Warrny," she said.
"I've played there before but obviously before it was all done up - I'm keen to get down there and hopefully play. It's really cool to have a game there.
"I'll look to get all my Hamilton buddies over and obviously heaps of Warrnambool people."
She added providing south-west football fans with exposure to elite sport could inspire the next wave of female footballers in the region.
"You even see it down here in Geelong, we have probably a bigger reach because there's more people and they can come to the game more often," she said.
"When you're down there it's three hours away to get to the games so bringing it down there brings more opportunity and exposure - even parents bringing their girls down to the footy and it might be inspire them.
"It's going to help grow the region even more."
The Cats - who finished 12th in the previous season - will take on Richmond at GMHBA Stadium on Sunday August 28 in their first match.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Now just one tap with our new app: Digital subscribers now have the convenience of faster news, right at your fingertips with The Standard:
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.