Lily Postlethwaite celebrates a goal during round three, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

LILY Postlethwaite had played one game in 926 days.

Just one game surrounded by two ACL injuries, watching Brisbane's first premiership from the sidelines, a positional change and a whole lot of introspection was the tale of her AFLW career before turning 22.

A highly fancied draftee in 2019, taken with pick No.3 by Brisbane, she was slated to be a major part of the side's push back to finals. Her strength and work rate around the contest was everything the Lions needed, and she played every possible game in the stunted 2020 season.

But just 11 games into her career the then-teenager was struck down with a long-term knee injury, which was just the beginning of a tough journey back to football.


"I often look back and I'm like, 'Wow I wonder what I would be like now if that didn't happen'," Postlethwaite told

"I've got such a different angle of looking at (footy) now."

It took 554 days for her to get back out onto the footy field.

In those 554 days, Brisbane won its first AFLW premiership, a game which Postlethwaite had to celebrate from the stands as she rehabilitated her knee.

But finally, game number 12 was just around the corner as she was selected to make her long-awaited return in round one of season seven.

The fairy-tale simply wasn't to be, however, with Postlethwaite lasting just seven per cent of game time before going down with another dreaded ACL injury. The worst-case scenario for a young player making her return.


"I think in my first knee, reaching out to people was all new to me," Postlethwaite said.

"The second one was the one where I reached out a bit more early days because, obviously, I knew what was coming. But I think it's really important to reach out to, it could be anyone really, but just saying what's going on rather than bottling up.

"Leaning on those people around you really helps you in those dark times."

Lily Postlethwaite looks dejected after Brisbane lost the season seven, 2022 AFLW Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

For Postlethwaite it was mum, dad, and partner Taj providing support, alongside her teammates, who helped her navigate another 372 days on the rehab circuit.

This year, however, is a different experience with Postlethwaite returning from her second long layoff in round one and playing a vital role for the Lions in every game to date.

"It's just awesome to be back out there on the park each weekend," Postlethwaite said.

Originally signed as a midfielder, she has found a home inside the attacking 50 this season, essentially replacing former All-Australian Greta Bodey around goals.

Craig Starcevich and Lily Postlethwaite pose for a photo during the 2019 NAB AFLW Draft on October 22, 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

"Growing up playing footy I was always around the mids, but Craig (Starcevich) sees me as a player that can play multiple roles. That spot opened up with players leaving so we tested me in there and I just really liked that opportunity to play forward," Postlethwaite said.

Crediting Brisbane forwards coach Phil Lovett with her development as a small forward, the Lion is doing extras to become an increasingly dangerous option around goals, while also flagging that AFL Lion Cam Rayner is a player she likes to model her game on.

"Cam Rayner, he just plays that role really well. He's really powerful and he pushes up the ground as well and connects with the forwards," Postlethwaite said.

"He's someone that when I watch the boys play I'm not wanting to completely replicate what he does, but I definitely see parts of his game and think, 'yeah, I want to do that'."


But this weekend is a different challenge. Bodey, and fellow former Lion Emily Bates, will be on the opposition for Postlethwaite for the first time on Sunday afternoon.

"It's probably more exciting, I'm pretty good friends with both of them so it will be a bit weird seeing them in Hawks colours and not being on the same team as them. But they're both great players," Postlethwaite said.

They're both great friends and players. But does Postlethwaite still want to get one over them?

"Yeah. 100 per cent."