Fremantle AFLW skipper Hayley Miller has flagged the return of key defender Janelle Cuthbertson for Fremantle’s do-or-die final this weekend against North Melbourne at Arden Street.
The All-Australian defender last lined up for Freo in round two this season against GWS, in which Cuthbertson was sidelined out of the game early due to a concussion.
Cuthbertson had been preparing to make her return to face the Western Bulldogs after completing the AFL’s concussion return to play protocols but sustained a fractured jaw at training.
The injury left the defender sidelined for the majority of the season, but Cuthbertson has enjoyed strong sessions on the training track in recent weeks.
Miller said the team will feed off the excitement of having Cuthbertson back in the side.
“We haven’t had her all season except for a round and a half at the start of the year,” Miller said.
“She obviously had the concussion and then the incident at training, I know how much that hurt her physically but also in terms of not being able to play with the group for that long.
“She is incredibly excited and ready to go, and the rest of us will feed off that.”
Lauded for her intercept marking and strong contested work, Cuthbertson is expected to add some further strength to an already impressive defensive group for Fremantle this season.
Miller believes her addition will also add benefit to fellow tall Aine Tighe who has enjoyed a shift into the backline this season in Cuthbertson’s absence.
“She is rock solid, tall and incredibly strong and athletic,” Miller said.
“To have that as a rock in your backline does free up your Aine Tighe and Emma O’Driscoll types from those taller players, and North have a lot of tall forwards.
“For ‘JC’ to hopefully come back and put some real size and body into our backline is really helpful.”