WESTERN Bulldogs forward Isabel Huntington has declared herself on track for a Round 1 return after suffering a second ACL injury in February.
The No.1 pick from the 2017 AFLW draft is set to join her Whitten Oval teammates on Wednesday after watching last year’s premiership from the sidelines alongside suspended captain Katie Brennan.
The teenage prodigy also echoed the frustration felt in AFLW circles at the league’s decision to split clubs into conferences for the upcoming season.
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The emerging star joined the widespread call for clubs to instead face every other team once during the home-and-away season.
That would require nine rounds as the competition expands to 10 clubs this summer.
But instead the league has split clubs into two conferences, where they will play seven matches before a two-week finals series.
Clubs will play the other four teams in their conference as well as three crossover matches against teams in the other conference.
“I’d much rather we play every team once,” Huntington said.
“It’s what the players want, it’s what the coaches want and it’s what the clubs want.”
Melbourne superstar Daisy Pearce – who is pregnant with twins and set to miss the season – slammed the compact length of the tournament when it was proposed in August.
“We wear that expectation that this is going to be a professional, elite competition, when in reality, this is a gimmicky tournament,” Pearce said, responding to a Herald Sun report.
Huntington said she was yet to fully digest the rule changes announced last week but backed the AFL after computing a wealth of data.
The goalkicker backed Dogs defender Hannah Scott to exploit the new kick-in rule, where players are no longer required to kick to themselves before playing on out of the goalsquare.
Huntington joked that Scott might be able to charge out of the backline and boot goals after opposition behinds.
Huntington, 19, broke down in the second quarter of the Dogs’ win against Brisbane Lions this year.
The emerging star and former St Michael’s school captain had just booted two goals and her cameo was so impressive she still polled two Herald Sun votes in the club’s win.
“It was a bizarre five minutes, kicking two and then going down,” Huntington said.
“It was my second proper match back (from my first ACL), and I’d played one practice match too.
“I broke my leg in 2015, too, so I’ve had a pretty rubbish run of injuries.
“But I’m feeling really strong at the minute. A lot of the last stages of rehab is getting your confidence back.
“Hopefully this is the last knee for me.”
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