The last few months have contained a share of the highest highs and some very frustrating lows for Abby Hatch (nee Schmiedel).
Just over a month after the Kootingal-Moonbi Roosters standout featured in her side's Group 4 league tag grand final bid against the North Tamworth Bears, she tied the knot with long-time partner, Zach Hatch.
Then, once news of Kurt and Rebekah Hartmann's impending departure for Newcastle was made public, she was reappointed to the Roosters captaincy for 2024 by coach Jeff Faint.
A short while later, disaster struck.
While playing at the Oztag National Championships in Coffs Harbour earlier this month, Schmiedel blew out her meniscus.
"I did it on the first day and just kept playing through it, so I didn't help myself," Hatch said.
"I ended up having surgery last week, so I'm just in the rehab process now."
The recovery will likely take anywhere from three to six months, but Hatch is "not going to push it" in a bid to return earlier than necessary.
It will delay her assumption of the captaincy, a role which she has not filled for Kootingal-Moonbi since 2022.
And while she is "excited" to formally lead the side again, it was not a label the 26-year-old sought. It was Faint who asked her to take it on again in light of Hartmann's absence.
"I love leading," she said.
"I like leading on the field anyway, captain or not. I do enjoy it, but now that I've got young kids and a family, my priority is on enjoying the sport rather than trying to do too much."
But for the moment, Hatch will focus herself on recovering from surgery and getting ready to play again.
The knee she injured is the same one in which she tore her ACL roughly 18 months ago - "It's definitely a bit dodgy" - but that incident taught her how to handle long injury layoffs.
"The time I did my ACL was probably the hardest one I've dealt with," Hatch said.
"This is not as severe as the first time, so I think I know how to mentally prepare and get through this process ... I know what to expect with it and how to do everything right."
But once she does return, Hatch is eager to see if she can lead the Roosters to go one better than last season and win a grand final.
And though the scars from this year's loss are still fresh, she believes Kootingal-Moonbi's young squad has taken away valuable lessons.
"A grand final loss in a close game like that, especially after the good year they had, they'll be better-prepared this year," Hatch said.