Jess Duffin made her return to AFLW over the weekend sporting North Melbourne’s blue and white.
The 31-year-old has spent 714 days on the sidelines from AFLW while carrying her now 8-month-old Georgie Duffin throughout 2020. Duffin completed a handful of preseason sessions late in 2019 before AFLW 3.0 however soon took to the sidelines with Georgie on the way.
The duel athlete captained the Melbourne Renegades for the summer of 2019, scoring 544 runs across 13 innings and for reasons obvious missed out on playing in 2020.
After the birth of her and her husband Chris’ child in June 2020, it was a tough ask for Duffin to make it back into the red uniform for an October start. Ultimately Duffin came to the decision to focus on getting back on the footy field as the WBBL and an international appearance loomed incredibly close.
In a statement Duffin said, “I’ve always prided myself on my preparation and there just hasn’t been that opportunity this year,” when speaking about representing the renegades in 2020.
Jess walked away from international cricket in 2015 before being drafted to Collingwood.
The duel sportswoman would have been a sure contender for a position in the Australian World Cup squad having previously represented Australia 117 times internationally.
Tim Coyle, Melbourne Renegades coach said, “There’s a spot for her in the Australian team, there’s no doubt about it.”
Duffin however made herself unavailable for selection, stating she wished to make the AFLW her primary focus before soon falling pregnant.
However the decision has paid off as she made her return on Saturday after 714 days since her last game and contributed nicely to the win over Carlton. The side has come off two losses this season, so the inclusion of Duffin came at the perfect time.
SEN heard captain Emma Kearney, “Our defenders weren’t getting as involved in our offence as much as we’d have liked.”
“To get someone like Jess Duffin, who is a defender who likes to use the ball, was really handy for us.”
Duffin appeared as though she hadn’t missed a touch finishing up with 11 disposals, she slotted in perfecting as a mature head in their defence. Duffin’s hard work for the past six months and beyond will only continue to show in the coming weeks, and potentially finals.
North Melbourne narrowly missed out through the conference fixturing system the AFLW has had in the past. With the talent on their 2021 list this is something they certainly don’t want repeated.
A strong performance from the Roos on the weekend got the job done against the Blues, taking home the chocolates by 22 points on Saturday. The top six sides will play off in finals which begin in four weeks, Emma Kearney and her Roos will be fighting hard for a spot as they currently sit in that sixth position on 12 points.
Carlton aren’t out of it, but they aren’t making it easy either. Just a game behind them sitting at eighth, the competition is heating up for many of the sides.
Incredible effort from Jess Duffin, it’s great to see you back out there. Viewers, we’re got some good footy ahead of us.
Final score: North Melbourne Kangaroos 9.5 59 def Carlton 6.1 39.