With time running out on his tenure in Townsville, Cowboys prop Ashton Sims is determined to leave the NRL with a premiership. Credit: Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos
Townsville may not be able to call itself Sims City this time next year but brothers Ashton and Tariq are determined to leave the joint with an inaugural NRL title as a memento of their time with the club.
Having accepted a two-year deal to join Warrington in the English Super League, 29-year-old prop Ashton says there would be no better way for he and sibling Tariq – who will link with their younger brother Korbin at the Knights in 2015 – to depart the Cowboys than with a victory lap on the first weekend of October.
And with a second consecutive away win – a gritty 20-12 upset of competition heavyweights Canterbury – pushing the Cowboys up into the top eight for the first time since Round 10 and four from the last six games to be played at home, Paul Green's men could well be primed for one of their patented late season runs into the finals.
"Winning a premiership alongside Tariq, that'd be the icing the cake," the eldest Sims told reporters after the Cowboys defeat of the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium, breaking a drought that stretched eight years between victory drinks at the venue.
"I can die a happy man with what I've done in rugby league. I'm happy with how everything is going and just really want to finish this year off on a high and go out a winner.
"I've been playing for about 12 years now and I've never won a premiership. I'm not getting too far ahead of myself, but now I am leaving it's the only thing I want to do. Personal stuff, tackles metres gained, hit-ups per game it doesn't bother me.
"I just really want to win now and I'll do anything to win."
Having hit the dusty trail and dusted the perception they can't win away from home for a second consecutive week, Sims says confidence around the Cowboys has sky-rocketed. But as for comparisons with the 2013 vintage, which shot from 13th place at this same point last season to a surprise finals berth with six straight wins, well there's no point living in the past.
"The mood's good amongst the squad but we're not comparing ourselves to the last couple of years," Sims says.
"We're a totally different team. We've had some great players over those years who have really stepped up and helped with those wins, but now we've got a whole new team and a whole new attitude which is really great.
"All the young guys are really spurring the old guys on and it's great to be a part of."
Next on the agenda for the 220-game veteran and the Cowboys comes a couple of crucial home clashes against two of the sides they are vying for a finals spot with; the Titans and Tigers.
Speaking after the Bulldogs win Green indicated star forwards Matt Scott (fractured cheekbone) and Gavin Cooper (dislocated hip) could well be back on deck for the clash with their Sunshine State rivals and Kangaroos prop James Tamou will be monitored during the week after being cleared of any neck injury despite suffering a scare against the Bulldogs and being taken to hospital.
Sims says that regardless of who is out there on the pitch, the Cowboys now expect nothing less than a stellar performance, and it's hard to argue with the manner in which the Cowboys handled the loss of their key enforcer for the best part of an hour, holding out a surging Bulldogs outfit adept at pulling off a grandstand finish.
"Greeny's really adamant on us; we're not asking for blokes to play out of their skin, we're asking for good solid performances," Sims says.
"We've got a belief in this club that whoever steps up into the role will do a good job, and I think collectively that's what we did [in Tamou's absence].
"Everyone's now confident, everyone's ready to go and we've got two home games up at 1300 Smiles Stadium that we're looking forward to now and we do want to keep this momentum going.
"But it just doesn't happen by itself; everyone's got to buy into what we're doing and dig their heels in and defend like we did [on Saturday night] against a really good team."