Sims boys to achieve rare feat
Ashton, Tariq and Korbin, they're the rough and tumble bunch from the New South Wales South Coast that will come together in a real-life Sims city encounter in Townsville when Ashton and Tariq's Cowboys host Korbin's Knights on Monday night.
South Sydney's Burgess brothers aside, not often do three brothers suit up for the same NRL game, and you would be forgiven for thinking that they'd be looking to pull rank on one another.
Instead, revealing more of a well-hidden softer side, big brother Ashton was more reflective on what it means to have all three together again.
The four Burgess boys made history last season but in the modern era only the Walker brothers (Ben, Chris and Shane), the Walters boys (Kerrod, Kevin and Steve) and Canterbury's Hughes (Garry, Graeme and Mark and later Corey, Glen and Steve) and Mortimer brothers (Chris, Peter and Steve) have appeared in the top grade together in the same game.
Ashton and Korbin faced off against each other in Korbin's NRL debut in Round 3 last year but as Tariq was out injured the Sims family weren't able to complete the trifecta, until now.
"You gotta take a bit [of pride] into it. From three brothers who grew up on the NSW South Coast and to just be where we are is something pretty special and I know the parents are really proud," Ashton said.
After not seeing the youngest, Korbin, in about a decade, Ashton said last year's Rugby League World Cup (representing Fiji) was a great chance for the three to bond.
"The whole Fiji experience was really good to spend with all three of us actually. It definitely brought us closer together," said Ashton, who with 206 NRL games is the most senior of the trio.
"It's been a long time since I've spent that much time with him (Korbin). I hadn't seen him or spent much time with him seriously in over 10 years."
When asked whether he'd be looking to chalk one up on the youngest come game-day, Ashton focused again on the bigger picture.
"Honestly, not really, we've had a pretty rough start to our season so all I'm really worried about is getting our own backyard in order. I'm just worried about getting the win that's all," said the 29-year-old.
"Certainly not ruling it out, but we worry about us first before I try to get a good one on 'Korbs'."
In an unfortunate turn of events, the very reason Korbin is in Townsville Monday night rests with the loss of Knights youngster Alex McKinnon to the game.
"I haven't spoken to him at all yet, so I wouldn't really know how he's holding up," Ashton said of Korbin's reaction to the tragic turn of events. "It's really sad what happened to Alex and it's one of the darker points of rugby league."
Meanwhile, middle brother and teammate Tariq is making headlines for various reasons, including the recent birth of his first child, daughter Lakia Kai Sims. It's a significant life moment that Ashton can see has brought a change in his brother.
"I think it's just the maturity (since becoming a father), and being humble with what he's doing so far," Ashton said.
"He's developed a lot since he came up here, having never played a first grade game and has now got a heap under his belt.
"He's had a couple of bad injuries and he's fought back hard from that. I couldn't be prouder of him and I know he's ready for that challenge of [fatherhood]."
The three are a regular rags-to-riches bunch, and you can't help but wonder what influence that had on their development as footballers.
As NBA superstar Lebron James recently referenced in an open letter on the internet, what would you rather, being born into a family with the white picket fence or having to work for it?
Monday's clash brings together not just three brothers, but three thousand different stories.