IT TOOK nearly six months for Kate Lutkins to re-watch the AFLW grand final.
Alongside her teammates, the Brisbane Lions defender was left heartbroken following the 35-29 loss to the Adelaide Crows at Metricon Stadium in March.
The Lions had surprised the rest of the competition to go through the seven-game regular season undefeated, and were arguably favourites to defeat the Crows in the decider.
It took a long time before Lutkins was able to finally sit down and re-live what she termed "a pretty brutal” day.
But despite the result, she still rates playing in front of 15,610 fans as her key highlight of the inaugural AFLW season.
"The grand final, even though the result didn't go our way would still be my highlight,” the 29-year-old said.
"No one can take that off us. We were in the grand final in our first year, and to share that with the girls was incredible.”
It was a season filled mostly with highlights for the Lions, but Lutkin fondly remembers three particular matches.
The opening round win over premiership fancies the Melbourne Demons was made even more memorable for the lightning which caused a delay to the game midway through the first half.
Winning in Perth the following week against the Fremantle Dockers, and defeating the Crows in front of their home crowd in round 5 capped "an unbelievable” first season for Lutkins.
She returns to training at the club on November 20, and will likely be asked to take on a bigger role in the Lions' defence with All Australian Sam Virgo out for the season with an ACL injury.
"She's a massive loss, (Virgo) is one of the more senior players in the group and her depth of knowledge and leadership on the field will definitely be missed,” Lutkins said.
"But I'm sure (Lions coach Craig Starcevich) has something up his sleeve. He'll have a few targets in sight to help the backline.”
After proving many doubters wrong in their first season in the competition, Lutkins said the team would do everything in its power to return to the grand final next season.
"For sure we'd love to be up there again, but it won't be an easy road at all,” she said.
"I haven't seen many of the girls outside of the club, but I'm sure each and every one of us want to get back to that grand final and win it.”