A chat with Alan McConnell was the turning point for Rebecca Privitelli.

Struggling to enjoy her footy as much as she always had midway through the 2018 NAB AFLW season, Privitelli sat down with her GIANTS coach and set about reassessing her options.

Footy had been a staple of her life – and something she had genuinely enjoyed – for so long, and yet walking away from it for an extended period appeared the logical decision.

Learning to live without the game for an entire year was difficult for the talented 25-year-old. However, having made a successful return in Saturday's gruelling one-point victory over Gold Coast, it would prove just as rewarding.

"I just couldn't get my body and my mind in the right space," Privitelli told womens.afl.

"I had a chat with Alan and he said to me that if I kept doing the same things then I'd get the same outcomes. I took a bit of time to have a good think about that and if playing at the highest level was something that I truly did want.

"I felt like in the past couple of years, footy got a little bit intense for me and I started focusing too much on what I wasn't doing right instead of just enjoying footy.

"That's something I've always done my whole life growing up, it's the reason I played footy in the first place. So, I took last year just to focus on myself and to work out if playing at this level was what I really wanted and if I had it in me to work hard enough to get there."

Privitelli's journey to this season was a long and winding one, having played five games for Carlton in its inaugural campaign before joining the GIANTS the following year.

However, soft-tissue injuries limited the 170cm forward to just one match in her maiden campaign with the GIANTS and ultimately left her contemplating walking away from the game indefinitely.

Having been part of football for so long, both as a player and in coaching roles with junior girls' teams like the Northern Knights and the Calder Cannons, taking a step back from the game was a difficult decision. However, in hindsight, it was the right one.

"I wouldn't be the footballer I am right now without that last 12 months," Privitelli said.

"When I came here I missed the first three or four weeks with an injury from pre-season – and if you miss one or two weeks, it's the same as missing four or five in the men's equivalent.

"Getting my body right was a big one for me, understanding my body was another one. But focusing on other aspects of my life was really important for me. I probably wouldn't have had the time to do it if I was still in the program.

"I actually don't think I would've made any significant improvement still being here, I had to have that time to really understand myself better as a person."

Saturday afternoon was therefore a sign of immense progression for Privitelli, with her dominant performance up forward helping the GIANTS to a hard-fought victory over AFLW newcomers Gold Coast.


Despite the wet and windy conditions in Blacktown, Privitelli claimed six strong grabs to go with 14 disposals. It was a fantastic effort, given the GIANTS managed just 30 marks total – and the Suns only 15 – amid the downpour.

"A couple of them stuck early, which is always nice," Privitelli said.

"For me, I love this footy club and I love Sydney and the culture here. A big part of (returning to football) was being part of the GIANTS and what's been created here.

"I've been around the club for three years now … to be part of a club that I love as much as I do and one that I'm so passionate about, it was pretty special on the weekend."