Sims in mix for Origin call-up
New South Wales coach Laurie Daley and Blues enforcer Greg Bird have both backed Cowboys back-rower Tariq Sims to push for a long-awaited Origin call-up when teams are named for Game One on May 28.
Drafted into Ricky Stuart's squad as 18th man on the Saturday prior to Game One in 2012, Sims suffered the first of two broken legs playing for the Cowboys that night and has not been able to force his way into contention since.
Normally a rampaging presence on the right edge, Sims started at lock forward for the first time in his career last weekend and although his side were defeated by the Warriors, it was an eye-catching individual performance that captured Daley's attention.
"It's good to see Tariq play his best game in a number of years I reckon last week against the Warriors. I thought he was really strong," Daley told NRL.com.
"That's something that we always need, competition for spots and guys that are hungry to do well.
"It's unfortunate that we're starting to get a few injuries and not only to guys that have been in the team but guys that have been on the periphery for the last couple of years."
Although he would like to pack down alongside him in the Blues back row, Bird will first have to try and limit Sims's influence when his Gold Coast Titans host the Cowboys on Monday night.
Rating the Cowboys forward pack as "the benchmark forward pack in the comp", Bird is excited at the prospect of Sims contending for a Blues jumper and finally being free of injury.
"He's had a rough run but he's definitely got the potential and ability to force his way into one of those sides," Bird said of his representative prospects. "He's started the season strongly and is someone we're going to have to focus on in the middle.
"He's big, that's one thing, and he can move. He's also pretty tough and he'll be pretty relentless at us [on Monday] night. He's been moved from the edge into the middle and he's getting his hands on the ball a lot more and he's only going to get better with more time in there."
Named to start at lock again on Monday night, Sims amassed 131 running metres and 31 tackles in his first move into the middle against the Warriors and insists he is relishing the chance to take on a heavier workload.
"It's a bit different than the edge, you do a lot more work but it's an opportunity and a challenge that I'm relishing and loving every minute of it," Sims said.
"It was [a surprise] but back when he asked me to go there I said that I'd play wing if he wanted to put me out there. It's a challenge and one that I've accepted and one that I'm trying to do the best job that I can. It is still a new position and a lot of things that I need to be doing on the field, just chipping away every week."
Coming off back-to-back losses to the Broncos and Warriors, Sims concedes that there have been times that the Cowboys have been "tough to watch" but is adamant that a performance more befitting a top-four team is just around the corner.
"It's tough to watch us; we're almost there but almost isn't good enough in first grade so we need to strive for better performances off every individual," said the 24-year-old. "If we all do our one job right it all adds up to the big picture so we've got to really knuckle down this weekend.
"[The Titans] have got a big pack, no secret there, and a couple of good players coming off the bench as well. They've got a nice little roll on with a bit of confidence too.
"We've got to go down there with the mentality that we're not going to be overrun in the middle so us boys have got a big job ahead of us because they've got some blokes who can really do some damage in the forward pack and then their halves on the back of that. It's something that we have to stop early.
"It's up to us to go down there and take the two points off the Gold Coast because right now, even though it's early, we really do need every point."