This weekend's Western Women's Rugby League (WWRL) grand final has been robbed of one of its brightest talents after Alahna Ryan suffered a fractured foot while on representative duty.
Ryan had her leg trapped awkwardly in a tackle when playing for the Western Rams at Bathurst on Saturday and while the full diagnosis won't be given until she visits the fracture clinic on Friday she is set for a lengthy stint on the sidelines.
Ryan, the former Nyngan star who was a marquee signing for Dubbo CYMS heading into the 2019 Group 11 season, missed out on making her Fishies debut at the Western Challenge league tag carnival on Sunday while she also won't get to feature for the Wiradjuri Goannas in this weekend's WWRL decider clash with the Panorama Platypi.
"I can't believe I've done it," a dejected Ryan said.
It's going to be a challenging game for our side but I've got faith in the girls that they can go all the way and play like they have been all season.Alahna Ryan
"I just wish I could be there playing on the weekend. But I'll be there on the sideline feeling so anxious."
While it's a disappointing and frustrating injury, Ryan's mood has been buoyed by the sheer amount of messages she has received since Saturday.
Goannas teammates have been in touch almost every day, checking in and letting Ryan know their own disappointment about her missing the grand final.
The Goannas moved through to the decider after Castlereagh was unfortunately forced to forfeit the semi-final due to low numbers.
"Panorama was missing a few of their guns the first time we played them," Ryan said of the final, the Goannas running out 68-4 winners back in round four.
"It's going to be a challenging game for our side but I've got faith in the girls that they can go all the way and play like they have been all season."
While the Ryan may still be backing her side, there is no doubt the Goannas will miss the dynamic outside back.
Ryan has been a standout in the tackle competition and was a shining light in Western Rams' otherwise disappointing country championships opening loss to Monaro.
She also played a part in getting the Rams out to a dominant lead in Saturday's second round win over Greater Southern Region Wests Tigers before being stretchered off with the foot injury late in the game.
While helping the Rams to a first win in the country championships was satisfying, representing the Goannas and going on an unbeaten WWRL has been special.
"The team has just gelled really well," Ryan said, the Goannas drawing in players from the likes of Dubbo, Wellington, and Forbes.
"I haven't played in a team that clicked so well. Everyone knows their role and it's just so much fun."
Ryan said half Britt Naden will again be key in the grand final, having played a "massive role" in the side's success up to this point.
The Goannas will feature in both the open-age and under 15s WWRL grand finals at Wellington's Kennard Park on Sunday.
The under 18s will play Woodbridge Cup in a semi-final on Sunday.
The under 18s semis start from 11am on Saturday with the 15s grand final between the Goannas and Orange Vipers at 1pm and the main opens game from 2.15pm.
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