Rugby World Cup: Captain Kennedy Simon savours timely return to Black Ferns for World Cup quarter-final

Exactly two months after limping from the field in Adelaide, Black Ferns co-captain Kennedy Simon has completed a remarkable recovery to be named on the bench for Saturday's World Cup quarter final.

Although the return has been a long time coming, Simon has steadfastly maintained her confidence it would eventually arrive, as the Black Ferns enter the business end of the competition.

Back with ball in hand, smile beaming and in the winterless north, it's fair to say there's nowhere else Kennedy Simon would rather be.

"I'm extremely excited, really grateful to still be here and have the faith of my team and my coaches to allow me to have the opportunity to put my feet out on the park and put the black jersey on," said Simon.

Simon hasn't worn the black jersey since August, after being forced off the field during the Black Ferns' clash with the Wallaroos due to a leg injury.

The journey since has not been easy - filled with rest, rehab and solo training. 

"It was difficult, I won't lie about that," she said. "Training on the sideline, getting the rehab going and watching the team gel, it was hard."

As tough as it may have been, the 26-year-old was always confident she could overcome the challenge. 

Did it ever creep into Simon's mind that this may be a bridge too far?

"No it didn't," she said. "I know what I’m capable of."

Kennedy has her fitness back, and her voice as well. 

"She holds so much mana and whenever she says something, all the girls tune in," said star wing Portia Woodman. "She gave us a good rark up this morning, quietly in a nice Kennedy way."

Wayne Smith may have been spared Simon's admonishment but he's just as relieved to have his co-captain back. 

"It was like the Davis Cup there for a while, the old non-playing captain," Smith joked.

But even with Simon back in the fold, Smith is urging against complacency, knowing its dangers all too well. 

His experience with the All Blacks during the 2007 World Cup disaster provided the ideal warning for his side.

"When we played France at the stadium in Wellington, we beat them 61-10," he recalled. 

"A month and a half later they beat us in the quarter final of a World Cup, so you can’t take anything for granted.

"Complacency is your enemy, attitude is your friend."

A decent mantra for the Black Ferns to go by, as they look to extend their stay at their home World Cup.

Catch the Rugby World Cup live on Spark Sport or free-to-air on Three, or join Newshub on Saturday for live updates of both the Black Ferns and All Blacks