Black Ferns co-captain opens up on freak injury

Published date01 October 2022
Publication titleWhanganui Chronicle
It was one of the team’s first sessions of the year, and they were doing a wrestling drill on the jiu-jitsu mats. Splitting into groups of two, the goal was to out-grapple your partner to get double underhooks (both arms under your partner’s armpits). Simon was working with fellow loose forward Kendra Reynolds, and as they tussled, another group clattered into them

Simon was taken out from the side at the knee; the joint bending in an unnatural way. The 2021 Black Ferns player of the year left the room with a dislocated patella, torn calf muscle, ruptured medial collateral ligament, and damage to her posterior cruciate ligament.

“Two other girls were just fighting that hard to get under, they came across the room and took me out — on accident; a pure, freak accident,” she recalls.

“It was pretty surreal. I was just trying to find my position in the team, then when it happened, I sat there, the pain started to go away and I just thought ‘oh no’. I was flooded with emotions like ‘maybe this is not my year’.”

With the team preparing for a World Cup defence on home soil later in the year, Simon had her sights set on playing a part in that campaign, but knew a severe knee injury could end those plans before they even got a chance to be set in motion.

After a visit to a surgeon, it was recommended that Simon not have surgery on the injuries, but instead take the conservative approach and let it heal naturally; a process that would take months from her season.

Fifteen weeks later, Simon returned to the Black Ferns.

“It was pretty good and my knee is all put back together now. It’s been some journey,” Simon says of her recovery.

“I was just really lucky that we had the new structure and I was able to get all that support packed in behind me and ensure that I came back ready. It did definitely play a big role in my readiness and where I am now.”

The 25-year-old was called back into the team for the Laurie O’Reilly Trophy series against Australia in August. After getting the call confirming her position in the squad, the phone rang again. This time, it was Black Ferns captain Ruahei Demant, asking if Simon was interested in sharing the load.

“I just didn’t believe it. I...

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