Emma O'Driscoll in action during round two, season seven, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

A TEAMMATE'S studs, a leg laceration so deep she could see her shinbone and eight staples – it wasn't quite the ending to pre-season that Fremantle's Emma O'Driscoll envisioned.

O'Driscoll subsequently missed the Dockers' two practice matches, and coming up to five rounds into the season, is still wearing a small protective guard on her shin to protect the sensitive scar.

Despite that, the 23-year-old is in career-best form, averaging 17.8 disposals (up from 11.2), 4.0 marks (2.2) and 10.8 intercepts (5.2).

"Emma O'Driscoll doesn't play football without bleeding, let's just put it that way," O'Driscoll told Credit to the Girls podcast with a laugh.

"I'm very fortunate it wasn't a significant injury. However, I did cut my leg bad enough that it caused me to miss both pre-season games. We played our intraclub game, 10 minutes into the first quarter, hadn't touched it, this is phenomenal, we're smashing it, the purple team is killing it.

"I think it was the first tackle I laid for the game. Don't lay many tackles, it was probably going to be my one for the day. I've tackled Tara Stribley, and her studs have completely cut through (to) my shin bone. 

"I just thought my leg was a bit sore, and you can actually see me in the behind the goals vision look down at my leg, and stand up, with the biggest shocked face. I'd looked down and could see my shin bone, all the muscle and fat just opened up on my leg."

"The worst thing for me, I ran to the bench and everyone said, 'why are you here, you can't be tired', and I was like 'I can see my shinbone!'"

Emma O'Driscoll, seen with her leg guard, marks the ball against Imogen Barnett during the AFLW R2 match between Fremantle and Collingwood at Victoria Park on September 10, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

O'Driscoll detailed the unusual rehabilitation, which involved a lot of patience for the energetic key back.

"She was wearing normal boots, but I said to her, 'Stribley, you need to go inside and run on the concrete for a bit, mate'," she said. 

"Going up stairs was hard, because I wasn't allowed to point my toe. Obviously that puts a lot of stress on the skin and stretches it, it has nothing to do with the muscles, it was just stretching that skin. So trying not to point my foot for 10 days was very difficult. 

"After that, it was just about keeping it clean. I had to have antibiotics for 10 days or something. They had stapled it, I had eight staples or something, and the doc just cut those staples out, made me a little guard, and we're good to go.

"The scar is a ripper, I'm putting c-section cream on the scar, apparently it's very good – hopefully I can touch base with you guys in a year and it's gone."


1:30 – Fremantle's mid-season camp in Melbourne
3:20 – The 2-2 start to the season
5.38 – Leg laceration
9.05 – Finally feeling like a footballer, not a netballer playing footy
12.59 – A sister-brother combo at the club
16.52 – Laura Pugh and her recorder
19.48 – Upcoming match against Richmond, Grand Final week