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AFLW: 'Forgotten' twin's turn to shine

Tom Pountney  December 3, 2017 10:09 AM

AFLW 2017 Training - Carlton 211117

Jess Hosking (r) with twin sister Sarah at Carlton training

If I dropped down exhausted after a tough solitary session, one of the girls would run over and pick me up

IT WAS said in fun, but the message was clear.

"Dad doesn't scrap with us any more – we have been decking him since we were 10 years old!"

That was state netballer-turned-AFL Women's player Jess Hosking – just days before turning 22.

Along with Carlton teammate and twin sister Sarah (born first by one minute), Jess celebrated her birthday by challenging the Carlton squad to a mud-filled experience at a local military-style obstacle racing course next month.

It speaks volumes of the tenacity, inclusivity and professionalism with which Hosking goes about life ahead of a long-awaited NAB AFLW debut in 2018.

"I owe a lot to Carlton Football Club."

Hosking was the only player with a long-term injury to be picked in the inaugural NAB AFLW draft.

"It was a huge weight off my mind to have their support in getting my body right."

Recovering from a torn ACL and shoulder reconstruction, 'Hosko 2' was away from competitive sport for 15 months, but returned in August to play for Seaford in the VFL Women's competition.  

The onballer just wanted to get through that first game unscathed.

"It was small steps to begin with," she recalled. "By the third or fourth game, I was able to go hard for every ball possible and that rebuilt my confidence."

No stranger to rehabilitation – it was Hosking's 17th operation in 21 years – she displayed tremendous resilience, maturity and patience in recovering.

"I probably spent more time around the club than I needed to during rehab," she explained. "I just wanted to be close to it all. If I dropped down exhausted after a tough solitary session, one of the girls would run over and pick me up.

"I was inspired by [ex-Western Bulldogs captain] Bob Murphy's approach of getting around the team when he was injured. I cooked the squad a meal and presented everyone with a horseshoe charm and a personal letter wishing them luck ahead of the first season.

"When it came to round one against Collingwood, I stood with my parents and brother in the guard of honour. I was so proud of Sarah and the whole team – but definitely experienced mixed emotions. There were times when I thought about stealing Sarah's jumper and running out there!"

Through sports coaching, travel, music, fishing, charity work (for CleftPals Victoria and Interplast Ambassador) – and even some labouring – Carlton's No. 11 discovered different outlets to manage the frustration. But her passion for the game never wavered.

"It was amazing to watch Sarah go through it all, but hard to not to be alongside her," admitted Jess. "She is my role model – she has always pushed me to recover through rehabilitation.

"We do play with some twin telepathy – I tend to be more in and under and get the ball to her. It's been 18 months since we ran out together, but historically we have both performed better when we share a ground. It's going to be emotional when that happens again."