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AFLW: Kemp all smiles after ACL comeback

AFLW | Post-match Ainslie Kemp Ben Gibson from Melbourne Media speaks to Ainslie Kemp after her first game back after an ACL
I didn’t even think of it out there, so I think that’s credit to the medical staff … and everyone really.
I didn’t even think of it out there, so I think that’s credit to the medical staff … and everyone really.

IT had been 588 days since Ainslie Kemp last played a game of footy, but that all changed on Saturday afternoon.

The 21-year-old made a successful return from an ACL injury against Collingwood at Victoria Park and couldn’t have been happier post-game.

“It was incredible. It’s been about 18 months … since I’ve been out on the field, but everyone has been so helpful,” Kemp told Melbourne Media.

“Everyone in the team has played such a part in the rehab process and it just shows how comfortable we all are.”

It was a long road to recovery for Kemp who ruptured her ACL last year, but after running out the game with ease on Saturday, she has no doubt she’s back to 100 percent fitness.

“The knee feels perfect,” she said.

“I didn’t even think of it out there, so I think that’s credit to the medical staff … and everyone really.

“They just gave me the best chance to get back and it feels good.”

Kemp is a talented footballer, known for her strong marking inside the forward 50, but she was thrown a new challenge in Round 2.

After Shae Sloane went down against Fremantle last week, the Demons needed a new-look defence to help them restrict the Pies, and Kemp was called upon to fill that void.

Although she had never played a role down back before, she took the game on with her usual smile.

“I actually really enjoyed it,” Kemp said.

“I’m usually a forward and then I got the news this week that I’d possibly be playing down in the backline, so I just thought of it as a new challenge.

“I just tried to embrace it and attack.”

Kemp had seven disposals in her new position on Saturday and played an important defensive role to help restrict the Magpies to just one goal.

But the forward-turned-defender wasn’t worried about her individual performance, as she was just thrilled to be a part of the winning side once again.

“It’s incredible,” she said.

“Sitting on the sidelines last year, not being able to fully embrace it was quite tough, but just being fully immersed in it again this year is insane – it’s so good.”