THEY'RE two players with key roles in St Kilda's resurgence this season, but Tyanna Smith and Maddie Boyd have taken very different journeys to the Saints.
Smith was a star junior, who played just three games of footy in her draft year of 2020 due to COVID-19.
Bursting onto the AFLW scene, she finished second in St Kilda's best and fairest in her debut year of 2021, but tore her ACL during training in November of that year, missing both 2022 seasons.
On the other hand, Boyd is now on her fourth AFLW list, the 30-year-old receiving a lifeline as a St Kilda injury replacement player after spending both 2022 seasons in the VFLW.
Previously known as a key forward during her time at Melbourne (2017), Greater Western Sydney (2018) and her hometown team of Geelong (2019-21), she's now thriving as a defensive pillar.
The pair joined the Credit to the Girls podcast to talk Saints, rehab and working your way back to the top.
"It's been a journey, to say the least. 2016, the first draft with Melbourne, and it's been a slog, but I've found my way back. I'm just even more grateful to be here, and I'm trying to soak up every single training session and really want to make an impact," Boyd said.
"I probably haven't quite had the impact I wanted to in my previous years. Going forward, that's a big focus of mine.
"There was part of me that wanted to stay on (with the Cats' VFLW side) and give back to the club, but at the same time, I just had that burning desire that I had more to offer at a higher level. I wasn't really quite content just playing VFLW.
"I decided to make a leap of faith and try something different, and I found myself at Box Hill (VFLW) this year. It really paid off for me. They reached out to me, and I thought I'd give it a go. I felt I'd given everything I could at Geelong, and there were probably no more opportunities there. I decided to be a little bit selfish and do what was best for me.
"It was crazy though, people thought I was nuts, I was driving two hours there, two hours back, getting home at 11pm and having to get up for work at 5am. I don't know how I didn't get injured, but it paid off for me in the end."
Smith is working her way back into some good form after a long lay-off, the first significant injury she's suffered.
"I hadn't had too many serious injuries, no niggles or anything, but I knew straight away what it was. It was pretty obvious and innocuous, like [any] ACL injury," Smith said.
"I missed that season, but what was even tougher was having to miss the next one as well, with the back-to-back seasons. I thought I might be a chance, but towards the middle of the season (seven), we decided to just call it off and focus on getting my body right and focus on next year.
"It was a tough pill to swallow, but I think it set me up in good stead this year. I've got full confidence in my body now, and probably the fittest I've ever been.
"You have to have a bit of balance in your life. My teammates were great, they helped me through it, definitely, and all the coaching and support staff. I focused more on the mental side of things … a lot of reading, researching, listening to podcasts, just trying to better myself mentally for that side of the game."
1.00 – Consecutive wins for the Saints
2.56 – Boyd's long and winding journey
6.08 – Smith's draft year through COVID
7.38 – Rupturing an ACL in your second season
8.30 – A meditative focus
10.25 – Boyd on "making my weapon, my weapon"
13.25 – The turning point in St Kilda's season: Jesse Wardlaw in the ruck
17.17 – A bit more about the Saints players, from the player