CAREER-BEST BRAZILL TO RETURN WEST

Tiarne Swersky - May 19, 2017

Magpie defender Ash Brazill says her team “will play for Cody” this week after scans confirmed Lange would need to undergo her second knee reconstruction in twelve months.

Lange suffered the injury in a routine training drill on Monday night at the Holden Centre, and was diagnosed with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee on Tuesday morning.

“It was pretty tough when she first went down because we were all there. It was a one on one training drill so we all had our eyes on her,” Brazill said.

“We’re all just shattered for her.”

After dealing with her own knee issues last year, Brazill says she and Lange worked closely together during their first preseason at Collingwood.

“Codes and I were in the gym together rehabbing and trying to come back from our own respective knee injuries.”

“Just seeing all the work she’s done and the hours we put in together, it’s just heartbreaking to know she’s going to have go through that all over again.”

This week, the Magpies travel across the country to meet the West Coast Fever in Perth on Saturday night.

Brazill – the former Fever captain – thinks the devastating injury to Lange will bring the group even closer together.

“We know the team will play for Cody. Everyone is pumped for the game.”

“Cody would be angry at us if we diverted our focus away from anything but the game against the West Coast Fever.

“Cody is still coming into the club and that’s only going to lift us. If we didn’t see her or know that she was okay, it would be tough. But she’s in great spirits and that lifts all of us ahead of the game.”

Facing her former team is something Brazill has now come to terms with, after the Magpies defeated the Fever in round eight at Hisense Arena.

“It is a weird feeling, but I do feel like I’ve been at Collingwood a lot longer than I have now.”

“If we had played Fever in the first two weeks, I think I would have been a bit more nervous. But now it’s the second time we’re playing them this season, so I feel pretty good about playing them.

“Seeing Stacey Marinkovich (Fever Head Coach) on the opposite side of the court was an odd feeling…but once you cross the line, I’m in game mode and my role is to try and nullify the opposition’s wing attack.”

Since crossing to the Magpies, Brazill has asserted herself as one best wing defenders in the league.

She credits her career-best form to two things – her fitness and her surroundings.

“I think my body is in the best shape it’s ever been in. I don’t think I’ve ever been this strong before. Since I’ve been here, they’ve been able to keep me injury free which has been a reason why I’ve been able to play consistently. 

“Form wise, I still feel like I can improve a fair bit. But I’m just loving life at the moment. I mean, it’s hard not to when you’re at the Holden Centre and surrounded by these great facilities, athletes and this environment everyday.

The move to Melbourne with my partner was the right move for both of us. We’ve loved the transition. It’s a big family here at Collingwood and that is one of the reasons I signed on in the first place.”

And while some people are starting to throw Brazill’s name around for an Australian Diamonds call-up, the 27-year-old says her sole focus is winning the Suncorp Super Netball title with the Magpies. 

“Every player has had that dream of playing for the Diamonds. I’ve been in the squad before, but just not consistently.”

“But to be honest, I just want to win a premiership. My priority is to contribute to my team. If that leads to Diamonds contention, then that would be great. But my main focus is Collingwood.

“And if I’m lucky enough to get into the Diamonds, I’ll celebrate that then.”

One thing Brazill will be celebrating this week is CGUs ‘Move in May’ – an event that supports the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).

As one of the event’s ambassadors, Brazill will participate in the all-inclusive Fun Run/Walk at ‘The Tan’ on Sunday morning.

“I got to meet Angie Green - who is the CEO of Stand Up Events (the organisation running Move in May) - when I first came to Collingwood. Her passion for equality in sport was eye opening and it inspired me to stand with her and get involved in what she’s trying to create.”

“Move in May came along and it’s the second year they’ve held this event. I think it’s a great opportunity for all athletes to get involved in a great cause.

“Personally, it’s an opportunity for me to throw my support behind an initiative that celebrates and advocates for equality and inclusion.”

Before her ambassadorial duties on Sunday morning, Brazill will fly with the Magpies Friday to Perth ahead of Saturday’s game.

“It’s going to be a big game. We know we just have to treat it like another game and stick to our plans.

“My former team haven’t had the best season this year, but they’ve always giving every team a good run for at least three quarters. 

“It’s not going to be easy. We need a strong start. We’re switched on so we just need to capitalize on that.”

The Magpies take on the West Coast Fever at Perth Arena on Saturday night at 6:45pm (8:45pm AEST).

Photos - Getty Images