Tariq Sims set for big year in Newcastle
Justin Hodges didn't see it coming and neither did Tariq Sims.
A shoulder charge on the veteran Broncos centre in the first week of the 2015 finals saw the former Cowboys enforcer suspended for five fixtures, four of which are set to be served at his new club the Newcastle Knights.
The 24-year-old sat down with NRL.com's Jack Brady to talk about his suspension, leaving one brother to play with another, his transition from North Queensland to Newcastle and how he is developing as a player.
NRL.com: You obviously have an extra month of pre-season this year Tariq, do you put in as much effort now as your teammates and keep on building on it over the first four rounds when you can't play?
Tariq Sims: Absolutely. I still feel a part of the team. Stoney [coach Rick Stone] has definitely made me feel just as much a part of the team as anyone. I have a job to help prepare the team for the trials and then obviously Round 1. With me still doing the same amount of work and the same drills, it helps others by allowing me to put my two cents in wherever needed. It definitely adds towards the bigger picture overall which is winning the premiership at the end of the year.
Is it hard to get up for training knowing you're going to miss the first four rounds?
Not at all. I'm a very motivated person and it's pretty easy when you get up and get to come to work and train with your mates. It's definitely an experience not many people get to enjoy, but I'm one of the lucky few that gets to come to training every day and get put through the paces with my mates and play a bit of footy.
You can look at it two ways can't you? You can take the extra month and expand on your skills or just sit there and sulk. It sounds like you have taken the high road with the suspension?
Yeah, exactly right. The way I look at it, I'm pretty lucky. I get an extra month of getting on top of my game and just fine-tuning my skills so I definitely hit the ground running when I make my return in Round 5.
How does a Newcastle pre-season compare to a North Queensland pre-season?
I keep comparing it to the fact that when it rains, it's weird because it's a cool rain, but when it rains up in North Queensland it's a hot, humid, steamy, clears the sinuses kind of rain but it has been great. I like this sort of cool weather; it doesn't bother me too much. I've been adjusting well and it's definitely showing in my training.
On the field you are Newcastle's premier signing for 2015 – is there any pressure that comes with that to perform?
I don't really look it at that way but I'm a very focused individual and I want to make sure I'm putting my best foot forward for Newcastle. Because I have started my time here with a suspension I want to make sure I repay the fans, my teammates and the coach for putting faith in me to come down here and do a job. Stoney is one of those blokes who make you want to play for him. He gives you plenty of respect and you want to give him so much more back. I'm very driven to succeed and I want to help the next generation as much as I can as well as learn off the [Jeremy] Smiths, the Kurt Gidleys and the Robbie Rochows and pick their brains as well because you never stop learning in rugby league.
On that, how have you enjoyed Newcastle as a place so far?
I love it. Just the people who are involved, I've been involved with Stoney since the World Cup, and obviously the coaching staff that he has here has definitely helped make the transition easier. The people around the club and the players are all very down to earth, hard working, blue collar sort of people and that's definitely what Newcastle is about and it's something we want to drive home this year. I love every bit of it and am really enjoying and cherishing my time here because I'm pretty lucky.
You obviously had your older brother Ashton up in North Queensland with you but now in Newcastle you must be stoked that your closer to the rest of your family in Gerringong and playing alongside your brother Korbin?
Absolutely. You've hit the nail on the head. Obviously losing Big Basher [Ashton] to England was very disappointing. I think he was playing some of the best footy he has ever played in his career – there's no doubt about that. But I've been giving the opportunity to come down here to Newcastle and I'm lucky to be playing with Korbin. And like you said, Gerringong is just down the highway and my sister [Jillaroos star Ruan Sims] lives in Sydney, so the family is always welcome at my house in Newcastle. It is awesome to get back closer to them… and I just love it. You couldn't wipe the smile off my face. I wake up every morning and think how lucky I am. You know, just even being able to go to the beach after training, it's just so refreshing.
You and Korbin get a chance to join elite company at the Knights, to become the fifth set of brothers (Johns, Gidleys, MacDougalls and Mata'utias) to have played at NRL level with the club – it must something you're looking forward to achieving?
It is a bit of history definitely. Newcastle is a club based around family and I know Stoney is really driving that with everyone and their partners and their children, getting them involved with club activities. To be in and around a club like this which revolves around family, it is really refreshing and it's great for the partners as well because they get to interact with different people.
You have been on the brink of further representative honours for a number of years now, do you think Newcastle can be the club to take you to the next level?
I'm not going to really comment on that. I don't really look that far ahead in that arena of football. But definitely, I've been quoted before saying this, the people who Stoney has involved at this club are very qualified and I am learning a lot this pre-season. It is only the second pre-season I've had where I'm fit and healthy and haven't missed any sessions, so I'm really taking it by the collar and trying to soak up as much information as I can, because knowledge is power when it comes to football.