Injuries to key Sharks players ahead of tonight’s NRL match against Newcastle may have given David Simmons a starting spot, but they have also made him think about his own priorities – and not just in Rugby League.
The unheralded Sharks utility has played over 100 games for the club but, after seeing team-mate Ben Ross suffer a serious injury, the 24-year-old has been reassessing his goals and looking towards life after football.
“I’ve just seen over the last couple of years and especially the last couple of weeks just how fragile a career can be,” Simmons said.
“With injuries and young players coming through, I guess I am starting to think that any season could be my last.
“I am just trying to enjoy it for what it is.
“As long as my body is okay and it is not affecting my personal life with injuries and stuff like that, I’ll play as long as I can.”
Simmons, who didn’t start playing Rugby League until he was 15, is a Sharks local junior and can’t believe he has achieved the century milestone for the club he grew up supporting.
“I don’t consider myself in the same company as the guys who have played over 100 games,” he admits.
“A lot of them were real tough footy players and I wouldn’t consider myself a tough footy player by any stretch.
“I’m just trying not to do the jumper any dishonour in the way I play.
“I just want to be respectful for the teams and players that have gone before me.
“The 100 games kind of snuck up on me, I’d sort of played 100 before I even felt like I had any experience. It was surreal, but I am hoping to play a lot more.”
After playing every game for Cronulla in 2008, an injury to fullback Brett Kearney has given Simmons a start in the run-on side for the clash against the Knights at Toyota Stadium tonight.
After missing the opening game of the season, it is something he does not take for granted.
“You never get tired of running out in front of those fans at Toyota Stadium,” he said.
“It is truly amazing that so many people turn up to watch us, it really gives us a lot of energy when we run onto the field and gives you that bit extra.
“Its kind of funny, we used to come down to the ground and watch the Sharks play and all of a sudden playing out there, it felt so different.”
“I think I am appreciating it a lot more than I used to, just the energy the crowd gives you and the people that come along to support you.”
The Sharks admit they weren’t at their best last week against the Panthers, but still managed to win 18-10 in atrocious conditions.
They will be looking to improve on that performance tonight and have marked Knights trio Jarrod Mullen, Kurt Gidley and former Shark Isaac De Gois as the danger men going into the clash.
“They have a couple of good strike players in Mullen, Gidley and De Gois, so we will be looking to shut down those players,” he said.
“De Gois will be looking to have a massive game.
“We know his game pretty well, so we are hoping that we can stop him, but he is a very good player.
“We just can’t give him a chance to run, because that is when hi is at his most dangerous.
“We know we didn’t play well last week, but we still won and that gives us a bit of confidence knowing that we can win games when we are not at our best.”