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How Irish legend overcame horror injury to kick on with Giants

And to cap it all off, the 38-year-old, who is lauded as one of Ireland’s greatest sportswomen, finds herself in the Giants leadership group for the first time as one of four deputies to new skipper Alicia Eva.

It’s fitting recognition for Staunton, who has astounded people at the club with the speed and tenacity of her recovery from the double-leg break she suffered while playing for UNSW-ES Bulldogs in the AFL Sydney competition back in May.

You can have pity on yourself, but it’s been a huge mental challenge for me, and I’ve relished it.

Cora Staunton

“It’s probably fading away, a little bit, actually, which is good – the traumatic side of it,” Staunton said.

“I think it was in the second quarter. I’d just received the ball. As I do, I take on the game – a habit from Gaelic football.

“I went to sidestep an opponent and my foot got stuck in the ground. Someone came in to tackle me and I couldn’t move my foot. Next thing, my leg was coming down and my foot wasn’t moving. I could hear a crunching noise as I went down.”

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The diagnosis was grim:  breaks in her fibia and tibia, a 12-month injury at minimum in most cases. At her age, it could have so easily been curtains. But that was a reality Staunton wasn’t ready to accept, so she enforced her own.

“It’s been a challenge. That’s the way you have to look at it,” she said.

“You can have pity on yourself, but it’s been a huge mental challenge for me, and I’ve relished it.

“People tell you you won’t come back, it’ll at least be 12 months. A lot of people probably questioned if I’d retire or not bother trying. That was extra motivation for me. Anything I could use, I used.”

Staunton said it was only because of the help of the GWS conditioning and physio staff that she was able to get to where she is today: intent on making sure her third season in AFLW is her best.

“I’m a little bit apprehensive around being tackled, but I’ve been in contact for the last three weeks. The body feels good. It’s probably the mind that’s the last thing to get right,” she said.

Staunton is joined in the new-look Giants leadership group by Pepa Randall, Britt Tully and Jessica Dal Pos. Eva has stepped up as captain after the retirement of inaugural skipper Amanda Farrugia late last year.

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