TARA Andrews wasn’t banking on making the Matildas’ OIympic squad for Rio last year, but missing out still hurt.
And the disappointment of not making the final cut left the former Newcastle Jets vice-captain questioning her future in the sport.
But after a season off, the 23-year-old feels refreshed and ready to return to the W-League with her home club.
Andrews, fellow attacker Jenna Kingsley and the Jets’ 2016-17 player of the year, Cassidy Davis, were confirmed on Tuesday as signings as coach Craig Deans builds towards the season-opener on October 29 against Western Sydney at McDonald Jones Stadium.
“I wanted a year off because we play winter and summer and you don’t really ever get a break to go on holiday,” said Andrews, who played for North West Sydney in the NSW NPL last winter.
“I just needed a mental and physical break as well just to see what else is out there.
“I went on holidays a couple of times and just enjoyed myself for the first time in a while. Just doing what I wanted.
“But I always had the intention of coming back. I just needed that year to kind of refresh myself.
“I was with the Matildas in that year and didn’t make the Olympic squad. It was kind of like, ‘What am I doing? Do I still want to do this?’.”
Andrews debuted for the Matildas in late 2015 and featured in their pre-Olympic training camps before falling short of a ticket to Rio.
“I knew I was always on the fringe. The Matildas obviously have a lot of good forwards,” she said.
“It wasn’t like I thought I’d get in, it was just after that it was like, ‘I don’t know what I want to do’. I was disappointed.”
She was looking forward to the challenge of getting back in the W-League, especially with the Jets potentially signing a US striker with similar qualities.
“Deansy has a few good recruits coming in, so I think we’ll do quite well,” she said.
“Obviously the past two years coming fifth, we’ve been just off the pace so hopefully it’s going to be better this year and we’ll make the top four. We’ll have some good players to do that with.
“There’s going to be another striker there so it’s going to be another challenge for me and competition to see if I can push myself to get better.
“That will be good because in the past there hasn’t always been that other No.9 there to push me.”
Deans said Andrews would be a welcomed addition as an attacking option and role model for the young Jets squad and he believed she would “do better without the pressure to be the top scorer”.
“The reason I changed some of the attacking players that we had was that it was all the same, everyone was quick, small and with some improvements technically that we needed,” Deans said.
“Tara is probably the complete opposite. She’s tall, technically quite good and she’s smart, although she doesn’t have the speed of some of the other girls. I think in a lot of ways we missed her last year, so it’s good she’s coming back.”
As for adding to her two Matildas caps, Andrews said: “It will be pretty tough, but I’d definitely like to get back there if I can.
“Obviously it comes down to how I’m playing and if I’m enjoying it. If I’m doing well enough to get a look in, that will be great, but I’ll take it as it comes.”