The Australian women's sevens team have been given a major boost leading into the Sydney Sevens next week with news speedster Ellia Green is on track to make her playing return after nine months on the sideline.
The former sprinter set her sights on a hometown return after her second major operation in two years but needed to receive the all-clear from team medicos after her first run up at Narrabeen this week.
Green, 24, played in two friendly hit-outs against Ireland and Japan on Thursday and by late on Friday had passed muster, keeping her on track for an appearance at Allianz Stadium .
The larger-than-life character said she was delighted to have made it through her first session back.
"I ate some grass, I ran on some, I put some in my smoothie," she joked. "I had a few touches of the ball, didn't get to score any tries but it was a good team effort and I'm definitely excited to play the next game. It's been a very long nine months of rehab and slog in the gym and on the field, but it will pay off when I finally get to put on that jersey and represent our country. Fingers crossed I get picked in that 13 but, if not, I'll be there with flying colours to cheer them on."
If declared fit, it would be almost unthinkable for coach Tim Walsh to overlook the experience, speed and energy Green offers. She scored a crucial try in the gold medal match at the Rio Olympics in 2016, capping an extraordinary four-year conversion from track talent to contact-loving rugby player.
The next two years proved trying. Green had a shoulder reconstruction straight after the Olympics after playing through Rio with a fracture in her right humerus and a two centimetre tear in her shoulder socket. She made it back in record time to run out with Australia for the inaugural women's Sydney Sevens tournament last year but had the rest of her season interrupted after she ruptured her ACL in Kitakyushu, Japan, two months later.
The Australian women badly missed her spark on and off the field as they navigated the ups and downs of life after their Rio triumph. Now, having won the cup in Dubai - the first leg of the world series - last month, both the team and their powerhouse forward are coming into Sydney brimming with confidence.
"I could barely eat my breakfast I was so nervous," Green said of her first hit out in friendlies against Japan and Ireland. "It's not even a world series but I was treating it as a big game and that first run with the ball was so exciting. It was so important today to channel my aggression, be smart and just have a run out there and get a feel for the grass again."
As an added bonus, the women's competition has been fully integrated with the men's, meaning the women will play all of their games in the main stadium instead of the training oval to which they were relegated last year. Green hopes their Sydney return will set the team up for a big year ahead, featuring the Commonwealth Games in April, the Sevens World Cup in San Francisco in July and the remaining four legs in the 2018 world series.
"The most important thing is we don't put too much pressure on ourselves coming into Sydney because it is just another world series competition," she said. "We're treating it as round two, not a home soil competition. This is about how we handle pressure and help each other get better and be in top form for the Comm Games."
Despite pushing herself to the limits off the field - Green box squatted an incredible 200 kilograms in December - the plan is to nail the basics in the lead up to next weekend.
"I'm not trying to do back flips or anything magical, I'm just trying to play good footy and do things I'm good at, which is getting the ball in my hands and running fast and running hard," she said. "That's why I love this game so much, so for now it's getting back to that."