Brigginshaw caps successful injury return
Australian Jillaroos playmaker Ali Brigginshaw says she felt her family back home in Ipswich behind her as she dived over the line in Thursday's 58-4 win over the Cook Islands.
The five-eighth sliced through the defensive line before throwing two dummies and outpacing her chasers in an impressive solo effort. It iced a strong all-round game that included a hand in five of her team's 11 tries.
Brigginshaw said she would take that moment "with her forever", especially after she thought her career had ended 18 months ago.
The Queensland representative struggled to walk properly for months after breaking her leg in three places while trialling for the Maroons in 2015.
Originally hoping for an eight-week recovery, Brigginshaw received a double setback when the surgery was deemed unsuccessful.
The result was a 12-month stint on the sidelines with no guarantee of a return to the playing field.
Basic tasks like going to the bathroom or walking to the fridge proved some of the biggest challenges for the 28-year-old, whose remarkable recovery means she's a strong chance of featuring in Brad Donald's full-strength line-up when the tournament gets to the pointy end.
"I was devastated, it was the worst injury I've had. I went in for surgery twice. I had a plate and six screws. It just wasn't healing properly," she said.
"It was disappointing, but that only gives you strength to play on, so I carry that every time I run out on the field now. I always think how it is to sit on the sidelines."
Brigginshaw is one of six Jillaroos squad members capable of playing in the halves, and the pivot welcomed the challenge of trying to retain her position for the remainder of the campaign.
Bench utility Maddie Studdon replaced starting No.7 Caitlin Moran midway through the first half, while Brigginshaw also left the paddock after a strong opening 40 minutes.
"I don't like resting, I just want to play whatever games I can," Brigginshaw said.
"I like the pressure. It makes you perform and do the best you can without being complacent.
"I [have] realised you have to be fit and strong, you can't just get away with not training as hard."
The Jillaroos return to action on Sunday against England, who are coming off an impressive opening performance of their own, a 36-8 triumph over Papua New Guinea.
With a women's Super League competition up and running in the UK, several members of the Lionesses have developed their game since the last time these sides met at the 2013 World Cup.
England are confident of upsetting the hosts.
Australia held on for a 14-6 win in the clash four years ago, but Brigginshaw labelled it the toughest match she's ever played.
"Some of the girls have come over and played in Australia so have got stronger and know the game better than when we last played them," she said.
"They're physical but are also very smart. We'll be in for a test, but [I'm] confident in the girls."