Kezie Apps’ NSW Origin selection is tale of mental fortitude and determination.
The Bega export was named in the final 18 on Monday after just two club games back from a broken leg.
The injury kept the Dally M winner sidelined for 19 weeks and she’s only just been able to get back on the park with two club games behind her.
“With my injury and trying to get back fit – that was something I wasn’t sure if I would make it back or not,” Apps said.
“But I am so unbelievably happy that all that hard work over the last few weeks has paid off.”
“I was definitely nervous for the selection, there were so many more new girls and talented girls involved in the [pathways] program.”
Apps said the injury – she suffered during the Auckland Nines – took a mental toll as well as the obvious physical pain.
“At the start of the injury when I couldn't work or couldn't do anything, I was in a pretty bad headspace,” she said.
“I had so many days where I didn't want to train because of my leg and it was always hard for me, mentally after the injury to stay focused on my goals because I couldn't walk, let alone run, for 15 weeks!”
However, after a successful operation and a further four weeks of recovery, Apps said she was grateful to the people around her that pushed her to get back to peak condition.
“Lucky for me I had [friend and trainer] Shaun [Ruzicka] who would force me to get my boots and he would take me to the fields and push me in a running session - and thank god he did,” Apps said.
“He was constantly reminding me of my goals and dreams and pushing me to get there.
“After I had surgery, i wanted to get back to the gym [Bega’s United Fitness], to be with positive people and to keep me on track.”
Apps signed on as a trainer at the gym while rising through the NSW ranks and into the Jillaroos as it offered flexibility for her representative duties, but also a place to keep up her intense training schedule.
“I guess I was lucky that I had a great job where I could do my rehab when I had a break or between clients,” she says with a laugh.
“I was doing something everyday with my leg to try and get back its full mobility and to build the muscles in my foot back.”
Fellow trainers, friends and even clients have kept her going and given her motivation where sometimes she found herself lacking.
“I was still doubting myself, but I surrounded myself with positive people, keeping my headspace positive, which has helped me come back so soon,” Apps said.