For Nagambie’s Bianca Willis, the decision to make a major comeback from injury was never really in doubt.
After breaking the talus bone in her foot and rupturing an ankle ligament, Willis, 30, had to endure a full ankle reconstruction last season.
Following surgery, she spent months in a moon boot and brace, before starting rehabilitation to make the long journey back to the court.
While surgeons first told Willis she shouldn’t play netball again, the prognosis was more positive from her physiotherapist.
‘The surgeons said no, but the physio said I could come back,” Willis said.
It was welcome news for Nagambie's co-coach.
“I play netball for fun and for friends,” Willis said.
After making a return to the court in late June, Willis says she’s now taking it quarter by quarter, game by game.
“My first game I came back for a quarter,” the goal shooter said.
“I’ve been building up time from that."
Despite not lining up with the Lakers this season until round 10, Willis has still found herself actively involved in the team's success, albeit from the sidelines.
Willis, along with teammate Sarah Sanderson, took over the coaching reins from Abby Misiti at the end of last season.
“There was no question to be involved – it's such a friendly environment,” Willis said.
“I decided to do it together with Sarah. We didn’t want to see outsiders come in. We wanted to keep it in the club.”
While Nagambie's early season success meant the club found cover for Willis' absence on court, it didn't curb her on-court envy.
“It’s been quite hard to watch sometimes, but I’ve enjoyed (coaching) more than I thought I would,” Willis said.
She said she would continue to balance her role on court as well as being realistic as a coach.
“I will pull myself off if need be,” she said.
Willis said the road to recovery had been a hard and long process, both emotionally and physically, but it seems coaching has helped keep her mind in check.
“When you’ve had an injury you think about it more,” Willis said.
“You think about the time it’s taken to come back and why you put yourself back out there on the court."
But with the Lakers right among the contenders for finals, it could be premiership glory that makes it all worth it.
“We hope to have success, but we’re not thinking of that yet,” Willis said.
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