SIMONE Smith describes the last year and a half of her life as the ultimate learning curve - you can't fully appreciate the highs without the lows.
It's with good reason too after the football gods decided she had had too much of a good thing that culminated in an Australian Jillaroos jersey in 2017.
She will head to Burleigh Heads from May 30 until June 2 for the Women's National Championships which double as a selection process for the women's State of Origin later that month.
Smith is no stranger to a representative jumper, but she has good reason to be even hungrier for one this season.
"It's a bit of a platform for State of Origin which is a platform for NRLW coaches to start selecting their squads for the NRLW season," Smith said.
The Kempsey product is back on deck after recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that taught her a level of resilience she never thought was possible.
"I found it was a good learning journey and that's what makes you more resilient as a person and that's what I gained the most from out of the experience," Smith said.
"I couldn't believe how quick it had gone; last month on the 18th it had been a year since I had surgery."
It was the second time she had gone under the knife on her right knee following a similar injury in 2014.
"It really sets you up with an idea of how sport plays out," she said.
"Some people can get really lucky and go on for years and then, like myself, you get setbacks and it's about how you come back.
"Things can be tough but at the end you'll finally get to your destination; everything that has happened happened for a reason.
"I feel lucky I've been able to handle the challenge."
There have been a few challenges along the way, including watching from the sidelines as women's rugby league started to take off around Australia last year.
"The mental side of things was challenging given the time that the injury happened and how women's rugby league was taking off," Smith said.
"That was challenging watching those exciting events happen and not be a part of it."
As a result, the former Jillaroo has added motivation to make up for lost time.
She will need to force her way into the frame for State of Origin selection with a strong performance on the Gold Coast having missed out on the preliminary squad that was named.
But while Origin remained the goal, she felt it was just as important to remain injury-free and the rest would look after itself.
"It is a big bonus for me; it was a bit of a goal to aim for (Country) selection as my first goal to tick off being back on the rep scene," the 26-year-old said.
"My biggest goal this year is to stay injury free and play good footy; everything else that comes after it is a bonus."
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