By Dustin Edwards
West Coast Fever defender Jessica Anstiss has fought through a bout of pre-season Pneumonia to become one of the most reliable Wing Defence’s in the competition.
The tough 21-year-old was instrumental in her side’s thrilling one-goal win over the Sunshine Coast Lightning in Round 3 as the Fever recorded their third straight win to start the season.
“Back in December I had a bit of Pneumonia, which was a bit random,” Anstiss said.
“But I’ve fully recovered from that and put the weight back on that I lost unfortunately, but I’m back and all healthy now.
“It didn’t put me back too much at all, we started in September, so I had already had that base fitness and then worked hard to build back up to full fitness.”
After defeating the Adelaide Thunderbirds and the Collingwood Magpies in the opening rounds, the away win over last year’s premiers looks to have reaffirmed the Fever's new-found and hardened psychological edge.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” she said.
“It’s not the closest place to play at, so a plane ride and a bus ride to there and to get a win on the road against last year’s premiers, it definitely gives us a good confidence boost for the rest of the season.
“It was a thriller and luckily we came out on top. We’re not too happy with how close it was, so hopefully try not to get too many more of those throughout the season. We like the bigger wins, but really happy we got the result in the end.”
With a superb win over quality opposition and an undefeated start to the season, the confidence and positivity in season 2018 has become infectious around the playing group.
“It’s very positive around the club, at the moment,” she said.
“I was thinking the other day, I don’t really know how we kept so positive last year when we only had the two wins, whereas this year, we’ve already had the three and everyone is up and about and full of confidence, which is good to see so early in the season.”
After a frenetic final minute against the Lightning where a Courtney Bruce intercept helped secure the one-goal victory, Anstiss credited the coaching staff for helping the playing group to push through the hectic final moments and come out on top.
“We train for those moments quite a lot throughout the pre-season,” she said.
“We practice with like 30 seconds to go being two goals down or two goals up, exactly what we need to do and I guess when we came into that huddle with 30 seconds to go with that break, we talked to each other we practiced what we needed to do.
“We just needed to keep attacking the ball because we knew if we tried to play too much possession, it would give them an opportunity to turn it over and get a goal. I remember specifically Gaudy (Sue Gaudion) really honed into us about how to play that 30 seconds, so we really knew what to do.”
As well as showing remarkable improvement on 2017, Anstiss has also taken a number of big scalps this season, with none bigger than Samsung Diamond Madi Robinson in the Round 2 win over Collingwood.
“I think she is one of the best Wing Attacks that plays for Australia,” she said.
“Being able to take her on, knowing that I came through the game ok at the end gave me some confidence that hopefully it should get a little easier.”
With the attention shifting to the Round 4 clash with the NSW Swifts, Anstiss is excited to be back home in front of the Fever army at HBF Stadium on Sunday.
“We are very close to selling out HBF stadium for Sunday against the Swifts,” she said.
“It’s really good to see that the WA community is getting around us and we’re trying to reward them with our wins.
“The Swifts are a young and exciting team, like us, so we definitely won’t be taking them lightly.”
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