Lauren Jackson looks up with ball in hand under pressure from an opponent

Lauren Jackson says mental challenges proving tougher than physical ones in Opals comeback



Chronic knee injuries forced Lauren Jackson into retirement, but the Australian basketball great says the mental rather than the physical requirements of her comeback have been the greatest challenge. 

When the FIBA Women’s World Cup begins this week, 41-year-old Jackson will play her first competitive match for the Opals since her international retirement in 2013 after 220 appearances.

Jackson joined the Opals camp on the Gold Coast earlier this month, where her physicality on court tested players up to 18 years her junior.

But the seven-time WNBA All-Star said returning to match fitness and reaching the standard of her peers were never going to be the largest obstacles to returning to the international stage.

“It’s been a real head game, just because of the injuries and everything,” Jackson told reporters.

Jackson’s knees have held up while training with NBL1 side Albury Wodonga this year and playing home games at a stadium named in her honour.

But despite averaging 31.86 points a game in her first year on court since 2016, Jackson said she never expected an Opals call-up.

“Right up until I got told that I’d made the team, I didn’t think I was going to make the team,” she said.

“We’re all the same, we all have self-doubt.

“[Self-doubt] comes in every day and that’s no lie.”



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