OPENING up to a sports psychologist allowed Adelaide recruit Renee Forth to recalibrate and shake the mental demons from her long-awaited NAB AFL Women’s initiation.
Big things were expected of the 31-year-old midfielder, who was a marquee player at Greater Western Sydney, but missed the entire 2017 season after tearing the ACL in her right knee in a WAWFL match in 2016.
Forth played the first four games this year before she was dropped by coach Alan McConnell, prompting her to speak to a psychologist at the Giants.
"The advice he gave me was, 'You've got to break down the whole wall, then build it back, brick by back – go back to the start and go back to basics'," Forth said.
"That's how we figured out what was going wrong.
"It's not really my footy smarts. (McConnell) equipped me with the right tools, but I just wasn't letting them come out."
Forth returned with more confidence when she was recalled for the final game of the season.
"It's a good thing I got dropped because I really thought about everything that was going on," she said.
"The conclusion I came to was simple. I wasn't giving myself a chance.
"I'd doubt myself and I'd doubt my ability, and doing that for a second or two meant you didn't make it to the ball.
"My problem was mental – it wasn't physical,” she said.
"When I came back for the last game of the season, I felt better because I was in a better head space."
Forth played with the Northern Territory Thunder in its inaugural VFLW campaign this winter, with the competition starting just before the AFLW trade and signing period.
It was then the Crows – who are aligned with the Northern Territory and had a number of players in the Thunder side – expressed their interest.
Forth was traded to Adelaide, along with pick 31 in the NAB AFLW Draft, in exchange for pick 19.
Crows co-captain and 2017 AFLW best and fairest Erin Phillips had made a pitch to Forth when their paths crossed as AFL Academy coaches.
"She said, 'I'll guarantee, I'll get some good footy out of you'," Forth said.
"The Crows were one of the teams I wanted to target … I looked at … what team I could fit into and what team could benefit from me when I play good footy.
"I'm just looking to train hard and earn a spot in the side."