A cheery and excited Lily Postlethwaite is as determined as ever to get back to playing consistent AFLW football.

The 21-year-old Sunshine Coast product is returning after back-to-back ACL injuries she sustained in Season Five, 2021 and Season Seven, 2022.

Coming from the field in the second half of the 2021, Round 4 clash against Richmond clutching her left knee, Postlethwaite knew the road back would be difficult.

After over 12 months of rehab and an outstanding 2022 QAFLW season, in which she was awarded the Emma Zielke Medal as best player, Postlethwaite came from the field in the first quarter of the Season Seven, Round 1 match against Fremantle this time holding her right knee.

Fast forward to now, and after a torrid run of injury, Postlethwaite feels as though her body is in a really good place and building nicely toward the 2023 AFLW Season.

“I’ve got two, even, good knees,” Postlethwaite joked.

“I’m in a phase where I’m in the gym a lot, it is that part of my rehab at the moment where I’m doing lots of strength work.

“I am also getting introduced into some drill work, focusing on change of direction and then we will start contact soon.”

It’s this laser focused approach to football and her rehab that has Postlethwaite poised to make an impressive comeback after putting her AFLW career first.

“I’m not working at the moment, ACL rehab is very demanding, especially in the early months,” she said.

“I’m really trying to give all of my time to my rehab and do it the best way I can while still having a balanced life outside of footy.”

Postlethwaite said the thrill of being back with the main group and being able to do what she loves has been a driving force throughout her rehab journey.

“It is really good to be surrounded by this group of people, it makes it so much easier,” she said.

Bella Smith has been in rehab with me too, so we have each other to bounce thoughts off because we know what each other are going through.

“But having the girls around the place, at Brighton Homes Arena, has been awesome as well.”

“I’m very excited, even a couple of months ago I had my first kick of the footy because I hadn’t been able to do that, and I was like wow this makes me really happy.

“It was so good to just kick the footy again.”

The Brisbane Lions made the move to their new $80 million world-class training and administration centre in Springfield late last year; significantly the first gender-equal facility in Australia, with all facilities provided for the AFL program replicated for the AFLW program, including recovery facilities.

“It has been great to be in this new, incredible facility because after my first knee injury I was always around at the Gabba and I just didn’t have access to what we now have,” Postlethwaite said.

“It’s been fantastic for my different forms of recovery with so many more different facilities to work with.”

Sidelined for last year’s heartbreaking Grand Final loss to Melbourne, Postlethwaite spoke about the different emotions of the day.

“I don’t think I’ve actually cried that much, when we went down on the field after the game, I just saw all the girls and was so upset,” she said.

“Obviously we were all in it together and we all wanted to win, it was so hard seeing all of their faces and knowing that I couldn’t do anything to help. That was really hard.”

Looking toward the 2023 AFLW season, Postlethwaite continues to focus on getting her body right to ensure she can be a force through, hopefully, another successful season.

“I am not sure exactly what round I’ll be back but after I tick all the boxes it’ll be around that 12-month period,” she said.

“With a few players leaving there is always opportunity for new positions but I’ll just have to see when the time comes where I’ll be best suited for the team but as long as I’m playing, I’ll be stoked.”