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Dragons forward Annette Brander.

St George Illawarra recruit Annette Brander reckons it took her two days to partially recover following a brutal clash with Brisbane in the opening round of the NRL Holden Women's Premiership.

For some of the women's players who have been training and playing in the NRLW, they've experienced their first taste of the daily routine of a full-time professional NRL athlete over the past two months.

The access to recovery sessions like cryotherapy, 24-hour physiotherapy and structured training sessions that include a focus around diet is something not taken lightly by Brander, who is unlikely to have the same luxury until the start of the competition again next season.

The 25-year-old hadn't played a top-level game since the Holden State of Origin clash two months ago.

She pulled up with a minor wrist injury that she would usually have not got checked.

"Without this recovery system we're out of pocket so a lot of us go to physios if we really think it's bad," Brander told

"Most leave their niggling injuries for a bit and it turns into something worse.

"With my time at the club now I was straight in the next day [following the Broncos clash] and back there two days later.

"It just makes a massive difference for us to be able to perform and know we can put everything out there as we'll be looked after."

Dragons forward Annette Brander.
Dragons forward Annette Brander. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Brander had no regrets over joining the Dragons despite a last-minute offer from the Broncos following her players' player Origin performance for Queensland in June.

She joined Dragons teammate Asipau Mafi for a road trip from Brisbane to Wollongong in August to link up with the Red V.

A legal assistant away from the paddock, Brander has picked up shifts at a local café to accommodate her stay on the NSW South Coast.

"I was reluctant being a Brissie girl and following the Broncos," Brander said.

"When I weighed up the pros and cons it was about getting out of my comfort zone a bit and coming here with girls that I wouldn't normally play with or know as opposed to girls who are really good mates.

"It's good for my development as a player and person. The Dragons were accommodating to that and made me feel like I had already proved myself."

St George Illawarra could meet the Broncos in the inaugural decider on September 30 if they claim a victory over the Roosters on Saturday.

Brander believes the side has come a long way in the space of a week, beating the Warriors after a first-up loss to Brisbane.

Dragons forward Annette Brander.
Dragons forward Annette Brander. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

"It just shows a trial game can help us as much as it helped the Broncos and Warriors in the first week," Brander said.

"It made all the girls rally around. I think we did a good job as middles against the Warriors, who have barely played before.

"The Roosters now have two games under their belt where they've been able to gel.

"They've got a stacked team of superstars so they can be a really good team but so do we. It would be great to replicate another strong performance against them on the weekend and hopefully do enough to make the grand final."

Bremner remains in doubt for the clash with a toe injury, while Roosters forwards Ruan Sims (thumb) and Simaima Taufa (knee) are also battling injuries.

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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