A meticulous rehabilitation program has seen Tara Hinchliffe make her return to court ahead of schedule, with the defender named in both games against Collingwood across the weekend.

Hinchliffe ruptured her ACL in Round 10 of the 2021 season but despite original timeline estimates, the circle defender will be available for selection in Round 1 in new Lightning colours.

The 23-year-old has worked tirelessly leaving no stone unturned in her return to court and Head Coach Kylee Byrne is proud of how she’s handled herself right up to first moment stepping out on court.

“The highlight of the trip was definitely seeing Tara take the court after her rehab from a 2021 ACL injury,” Byrne said.

“She has worked extremely hard to be where she is at and to see her out there before the season starts.

“She came to us in the back end of last year the work she had done put her in a really good place – she has done the extras which means she’s ahead of schedule.

“To think she will be on the court and playing prior to our Round 1 match is huge reward for her and is such a huge testament to the professional athlete that she is.”

Hinchliffe played limited minutes across both games in Hobart and will look to increase game time in the coming weeks.

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