EVERYTHING was going so smoothly for Port Macquarie rugby league superstar Simone Smith it was only a matter of time before she hit a speed bump.
The speed bump in question came in the form of a lateral meniscus tear which threatened to derail her World Cup hopes and dreams eight weeks ago.
Luckily, Australian coach Brad Donald had seen the former Port City Breakers star play enough to name her in the Jillaroos preliminary Women’s World Cup squad of 40.
That squad will be finalised on October 1, but Smith admitted she felt the injury could not have come at a worse possible time.
It ruled her out of the State of Origin encounter which was believed to be a selection trial for the team.
“It all happened three weeks before the game so it threw me off and I was really down about it and it was hard to know what the outcome was going to be,” Smith said.
“It was pretty devastating that I missed out on that game because that was going to be a good opportunity to cement a spot in the squad.
“After I saw the surgeon, it was all pretty positive and that made me feel more determined that I could be there come World Cup time.”
The worst-case scenario for Smith would have been a season-ending knee reconstruction, while the best-case scenario was a six-to-eight week rehabilitation program.
Smith said it was a vote of confidence from the coach that she could miss the Origin match, but still be selected in the squad.
“To still be considered after being out from the Sydney comp for a few weeks is always a good feeling when you see you’re a player they’re confident enough to select,” she said.
Despite the squad possessing names such as Caitlin Moran, Allana Ferguson, Kezie Apps and Ruan Sims, Smith remained confident in her own ability to make the final cut.
“I don’t feel threatened by the halves they have there,” she said.
“Caitlin Moran is a very good player, but generally plays in the centres and the only thing that worries me is when I can get back on the field and be back at my peak fitness.
“It’s a strong squad, but if I put my best foot forward, train hard and happen to get through injury-free and not have anything reoccur I’m confident and capable of getting there (in the final team) in the end.
“It’s going to be a tough decision who to leave out.”
Smith said it would be a delicate balancing act to see when she could return to the field, but she was wary of getting it wrong.
The Jillaroos have a tour to Papua New Guinea at the end of September.
“It’s all a process and I’ll check in with the physio to see how things are,” she said.
“I don’t want to come back too early and do further damage and rule myself out completely.”