Broncos star Ali Brigginshaw says the prospect of two NRLW seasons plus Origin and a World Cup is more exciting than daunting, with players crying out for more footy – particularly after some COVID-enforced lay-offs recently.
The 32-year-old playmaker has assembled with her team-mates to prepare the Broncos' title defence and said the upcoming seasons – potentially the biggest in women's rugby league history – was exactly what they players wanted.
"It's exciting! When haven't we wanted to play footy all year round?" Brigginshaw said.
"I thought we were unlucky not to play last year and to not play sport for six months is devastating.
"When you come here (to training) it kind of felt surreal just being back. For a whole year that's all we wanted to do, just play footy. There's all this talk about 'it's too much load' but I think it's just exciting."
Any time you pull on this jersey it's motivation: Brigginshaw
The shadow of COVID hasn't gone away though, with players taking plenty of precautions. Brigginshaw joked the number of players to have recently battled the virus should stand them in good stead in the short term.
"It is touch and go, we're lucky we've had quite a few girls actually have COVID coming in so I think they're in a bit of a safe zone now," she said.
"It's just doing the right things when you're outside of training and make sure you're not going to public areas where it is high.
"That's probably the nerve-wracking part is it's a 10-day exclusion so even if you show no symptoms you're out for 10 days.
"If you get that during the season you could miss two games potentially and that's the scary part of it, missing two games of our short season.
"It's dodging a bullet but if you do the right things at training, we get tested every day and if you do the right things at home and limit yourself, wear your mask, I think you're going to be safe for the season."
Having not pulled on the Broncos jersey for 15 months since winning a third consecutive premiership in October 2020, Brigginshaw has her sights firmly set on the clash with the Roosters at the season-opening triple header in Newcastle on February 27.
The defending champs have again assembled a powerful squad and Brigginshaw said she is excited to pass on knowledge to the new squad members and also learn from them.
"Having new girls there and young talented girls is really exciting. You can always tell in the first week if you have the right people there and I can definitely say we have the right new people at the club," she said.
NRLW 2021: Where power meets passion
"With the young talent we have in the outside backs it's going to be a crazy exciting season.
"There's been some standouts with Sara Sautia and Haj Mosby. They've been really exciting. They're new, they're young, they're excited to learn so like I said we have the right people here.
"The new girls bring so much excitement so if it's in a fitness test or if it's in skills you always want to try and show them the way or they might lead the way and you want to catch them so it's only healthy to have some competition in your team and we definitely have that.
"Any time you pull on this jersey it's motivation, everyone is out to get the Broncos. You have that added pressure when you come to this club, whether you're a male or a female."