Knights ready to unleash star recruit
The undefeated Knights are set to unleash major signing Tariq Sims this weekend against the Dragons, with Newcastle coach Rick Stone confirming the former Cowboys back-rower will play on Saturday night.
Suspended for five matches for a shoulder charge on Broncos captain Justin Hodges in the Cowboys' qualifying final win last year, Sims' return is a timely one as fellow back-rower Robbie Rochow looks destined to be missing significant game time with a back injury.
"[Tariq will] squeeze in somewhere. He's trained really hard in his time off," Stone said following Newcastle's 26-14 win over Penrith last weekend.
"He's been a great addition to our squad and what he has brought into the pre-season and training has been great.
"He's been patient. He had to be. He's had four games off and I don't think he would've thought the team would be 4-0 when he got back but he's marked down next weekend obviously and he's looking forward to it."
With Sims – who averaged 102.2 metres and 31.3 tackles for the Cowboys last season – set to add to his 71 NRL games against St George Illawarra, his new teammates are excited at the prospect of playing alongside the 25-year-old wrecking ball.
Knights centre Dane Gagai, who played with Sims in the Broncos' under-20s system, said Sims was "stinging to play" for the Knights for the first time.
"It has been tough for him sitting on the sidelines so I'm sure he's going to come out firing and it's going to be exciting to see what he does," Gagai told NRL.com.
"He's adapted to Newcastle very quickly and he bought into what 'Stoney' wanted to do with the team very quickly and I guess everyone has and that's why we have all our wins.
"He's raring to go even when he isn't playing so this weekend will be exciting."
Having emerged as one of the club's leaders alongside Beau Scott, Jeremy Smith and captain Kurt Gidley, Sims' attitude on the training paddock will only be beneficial for Newcastle according to Gagai.
"He has a big personality and it's great to have him around the club. He backs up his big personality though at training and he's one of those players who you love to play with," Gagai said.
"It was obviously his first pre-season at the club this year but the way he has been training, it was like he's been here for years. He's definitely one of the senior players now and it'll be good to have his impact in the middle of the field."
Chris Houston is another who has seen the benefits of Sims' presence at training.
One of Newcastle's veterans himself, Houston said Sims' time in North Queensland has set him up for big things in Knights colours.
"He's been around some great senior players up there in North Queensland with Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston and it's easy to see he's picked up some traits from those guys and he'll be and has been a leader for us certainly," Houston said.
"He's an enthusiastic person and missing out on our first four games has made him keener and keener every week so we can't wait to have him out there. He's going to play a big part in our side this season."
Sims will have to wait one more week to play with brother Korbin though – who is currently serving his own suspension. Should Korbin return to the first grade side in Round 6 against the Sharks, the brothers will become only the fifth set of siblings to play together in Newcastle colours.