Former top draft pick Izzy Huntington will make her GWS debut 616 days after she last played an AFLW game.
The Giants confirmed the supremely talented forward would play her first game in orange against Richmond on Saturday after an arduous recovery from a third knee reconstruction.
Huntington, who kicked 18 goals in 20 games at the Western Bulldogs after being selected with Pick 1 in the 2017 draft, has not played since the opening round of the first 2022 season.
The 23-year-old will provide an important extra dimension to the Giants’ attack as they pursue their first win of the season following a disappointing loss to Sydney and a heavy defeat to reigning premier Melbourne.
Huntington was told of her comeback through a quirky video featuring AFL football boss Laura Kane, which she began by speaking about AFLW rule adjustments before congratulating the forward on her selection.
“It’s been a long journey to get cleared to play, I was a bit shook though, it was a nervous wait in the gym after training, I wasn’t really sure when selection was happening,” Huntington said.
“I absolutely love it here, I’ve been close with a lot of the Giants girls for a good while, and then moving up here they really just welcomed me.
“It’s been a bit weird being on the inactive list in your first year at a club, but it was cool coming in with a different perspective and helping coach a little bit.”
The Western Bulldogs have swung the axe ahead of their clash against Melbourne, with two premiership players among the casualties as they look to correct their stuttering start to the season.
Small forward Daisy Bateman has been dropped, along with premiership defenders Bailey Hunt and Naomi Ferres, who took the famous game-saving mark in the dying moments of the 2018 grand final and played her 50th game last week.
The Dogs will turn to youth with Maggie Gorham and Aurora Smith called upon for their second senior games, along with second-year forward Heidi Woodley.
The reigning premier will regain star midfielder Paxy Paxman for the clash at Casey Fields on Saturday, with key defender Charlotte Wilson omitted from the side which belted GWS in Canberra.
Richmond has made two changes as it prepares to battle in 34C heat against the Giants in Blacktown on Saturday, with West Australian midfielder Charli Wicksteed to make her debut after being recruited as an injury replacement player in June.
Young forward duo Poppy Kelly and Stella Reid have been omitted, with the Tigers turning to Molly Eastman for her first game of the season.
Experienced midfielder Nat Exon will make a return for St Kilda, while fellow clearance specialist Rosie Dillon has been named on an extended bench ahead of the Saints’ clash against Port Adelaide at RSEA Park.
North Melbourne will go into a huge Friday twilight clash against Geelong unchanged after a blistering start to the season, while the Cats have brought in ruck Liv Fuller at the expense of teenage defender Abbey McDonald.
Collingwood, which faces Gold Coast at Victoria Park on Sunday afternoon, has lost Imogen Barnett to a serious ankle injury but has brought in Erica Fowler and named key forward Olivia Barber on the bench.
Important Magpies defenders Ruby Schleicher and Lauren Butler remain out indefinitely with foot injuries.
Friday, September 15
Geelong v North Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium, 5.05pm AEST
Out: Ab.McDonald (omitted)
Saturday, September 16
Greater Western Sydney v Richmond at Blacktown ISP, 1.05pm AEST
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY
In: E.Pease, I.Huntington, A.Lister
Out: C.Miller (omitted), C.McCormick (omitted), M.Brazendale (ankle)
In: C.Wicksteed, M.Eastman
Out: P.Kelly (omitted), S.Reid (omitted)
Adelaide v Essendon at Wigan Oval, 2.35pm ACST
Out: N.Allen (hamstring)
Out: K.Jacques (suspension)
Melbourne v Western Bulldogs at Casey Fields, 3.05pm AEST
Out: C.Wilson (omitted)
In: M.Gorham, H.Woodley, A.Smith
Out: N.Ferres (omitted), D.Bateman (omitted), B.Hunt (omitted)
Fremantle v Hawthorn at Fremantle Community Bank Oval, 3.05pm AWST
Out: G.O’Sullivan (shoulder)
Out: M.Breed (omitted)
Sunday, September 17
St Kilda v Port Adelaide at RSEA Park, 1.05pm AEST
In: N.Exon, R.Dillon, B.Pinchin, J.Anderson, R.Saulitis
Out: H.Stuart (injured), E.Friend (omitted)
In: M.Moloney, K.Pope, M.Keryk, J.De Melo
Out: J.Teakle (injured)
West Coast v Carlton at Mineral Resources Park, 1.05pm AWST
In: Z.Wakfer, A.Schmidt, E.Smith, B.Schilling, E.Gooch
Out: E.Hartill (concussion), S.Davison (shoulder)
In: T.Ortlepp, C.Fitzgerald, D.Finn
Collingwood v Gold Coast at Victoria Park, 3.05pm AEST
In: E.Fowler, O.Barber, I.Evans, C.Blair
Out: I.Barnett (ankle)
In: E.Maurer, C.McCrossan, T.Meyer
Brisbane v Sydney at Brighton Homes Arena, 5.05pm AEST
In: J.Dunne, E.Smith, M.Pauga, C.Wendland
Out: T.Smith (hamstring)
In: A.Whelan, P.McCarthy, M.Ham, B.Smith, J.Higgins, J.Anthony
Out: L.Szigeti (omitted), R.Sargent-Wilson (omitted), B.Kennedy (omitted)
Originally published as AFLW Teams: Former No. 1 pick Izzy Huntington to make GWS debut