Wallaroos captain Grace Hamilton has opened up about the support of the rugby community following the death of her father last year, saying her teammates have helped "pick me out of some dark places".
Hamilton's father John, a former NSW Country Junior Rugby president and revered figure in country rugby, lost his battle with cancer last November.
The pair were extremely close, in contact every day during the season to debrief after training and natter on all matters rugby.
And while she was able to pay tribute to her father at the Rugby Australia awards when named the Super W player of the year shortly after his death, Hamilton conceded the past year had been extremely difficult.
"It's been tough to be honest," she said of recent months.
"Those first few games I was rattled. The best thing about my team is we're so much a team, it's not about individuals.
"And every single person, we can't do anything without each other, basically, and we know that.
"And they've really picked me out of some dark places. They're supporting me to be the best leader I can be.
"I'm still learning in those sort of positions but those girls are right behind me and I can't be more thankful for that."
Hamilton was able to celebrate being named Wallaroos captain with her father and wider family looking on when the Australian women played their first Test on home soil in Newcastle last year, while John was also able to watch his daughter play a key role for Sydney University in their Jack Scott Cup grand final victory.
And she has leaned on many of those same teammates, who make up the Waratahs' Super W side, as she moves into unchartered territory this season.
"My motivation really came from my dad, so not having him here is hard because I used to ring him every single day after training," Hamilton said.
"It is hard and I do struggle with that but I've got to find a way to keep him here and I've just got to keep working on doing that."
Hamilton's Waratahs have booked a place in the Super W grand final, with the Reds and Brumbies still to play off in the preliminary final at a date to be determined.