Talkin' It Up hosts Megan Waters and Andy Krakouer with Carlton's Zac Williams and his daughter Ayla. Picture: AFL Studios

CARLTON star Zac Williams has spoken of the loneliness he endured through a year of rehabilitation while his sister Sam was battling terminal cancer. 

Williams ruptured his ACL late in the pre-season ahead of Carlton's 2023 campaign and faced a full year out of football, just as he had recovered from an Achilles injury that disrupted his 2022 season. 

To complicate matters, his sister had been battling a second bout of cancer for more than a year. Sam, a 28-year-old mother of three, sadly died in April 2023.  


"At the time, it was an interesting time in my life with my sister being sick and going through treatment as well, so I was doing my rehab but then on weekends my family and I were driving to and from Albury when we could," Williams told Talkin' It Up hosts Megan Waters and Andy Krakouer.  

"It was a lonely place, I guess, because the boys were getting ready to play footy and now that I'm back playing footy I know that you... get caught up week to week in playing games. and trying to figure out how to play your best footy. 

"I understood that when I was in rehab by myself with my rehab coach and it became a pretty lonely place, to be honest, with everything else that was going on but I think the club really helped me. Vossy was great in terms of letting me go back home when I needed to go back home and support family, be around family when I needed to. 

"That part made it a lot easier to know that the club understood what was going on as well. They knew I was struggling with my knee, doing rehab when I could in that period of time because I was driving to and from home so much. It set me back a few weeks, or a couple of months, in terms of my progression... but like most AFL footballers it can be a pretty lonely place if you're the only one with a long-term injury." 


Talkin' It Up is a new AFL podcast hosted by Megan Waters and Andrew Krakouer, and includes football legends from players to coaches and those who have been touched by the game we love.

Join them as they create a safe space to chat about their lives and experiences, exploring culture and connection and sharing stories about how football brings us together. 

Don't miss a minute! Subscribe to Talkin' It Up NOW at Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Google or watch each Tuesday on or the AFL Live Official App.  

In this week's episode of Talkin' It Up

  • Zac Williams discusses his year of rehab in 2023, how lonely it was and how he coped mentally 
  • Delves into the loss of his father and sister’s illness
  • Chats about home life with his two-year-old daughter Ayla and wife Rachel and daddy duties 
  • Tells the guys that his wife left him sweating at the altar for 45 minutes on the day of their wedding
  • Discusses what it’s like to meet your heroes Adam Goodes and Eddie Betts
  • Talks about how proud he is of his Indigenous culture and what it means to share it, and that he didn’t learn anything about it in school growing up 
  • His cousin's role in designing Carlton's jumper for Sir Doug Nicholls Round