Simona torn by rep eligibility
It was the multiple choice question Tim Simona found too difficult to answer.
As he perused the fine print of his latest contract with the Wests Tigers – a contract that expires at the end of this season – he finally came to a question which he was unwilling to put pen to paper on.
"When I signed the contract they had a box there whether I wanted to play for Australia or New Zealand; I left that blank," Simona told NRL.com.
"I had a little chat with my manager and he was sweet with it so I'm just concentrating on playing good footy and when an opportunity comes I'll definitely take it with both hands.
"I'm actually New Zealand born. I came to Sydney when I was six years old but I was born in New Zealand so I think I'm eligible for both. I haven't ticked the box yet."
Before any representative teams were selected last weekend Simona could have legitimately figured on the team sheet for four teams taking part across the Representative Round.
He will play for Samoa for the fourth time on Saturday in the Pacific Test double-header at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast but as he was born in New Zealand before moving to Sydney he also qualifies for Australia, New Zealand and City Origin.
With some scintillating play on the Tigers' left edge that has yielded five line-break assists, five line breaks, six try assists and three tries of his own already in 2015, Simona could consider himself hard done by to not at least have been sounded out by the Kiwi and City Origin camps.
Pressed on where his heart lay he did concede his preference would be to play for New Zealand but said the rewards for earning Origin selection are far greater than that which come with playing a Test for Samoa.
"It is hard. Just play good footy and see where it goes. The money involved obviously talks," Simona said of choosing representative allegiances.
"The boys won't hide about the money behind State of Origin or for New Zealand but without speaking for the boys I'm pretty sure they would put Samoa before any other opportunity.
"These boys, once they got picked for the Samoa team they put their hand up and they're very proud to put on the blue and white jersey.
"I know myself, I'm very proud and honoured to pull on the blue and white jersey and represent my country and my family and so are the boys."
Although some players of Pacific island heritage can struggle to cope with the isolation of chasing their NRL dream away from family, Simona rarely walks into a quiet house, and that is exactly how he likes it.
The 23-year-old still lives at home with his parents and three brothers, one of whom has a wife and three children of his own to ensure there is always plenty of activity in the Simona household.
"I'm lucky because I've got my family but it would be tough, especially coming home after a loss to no one cheering you up," Simona said of the isolation some players may feel.
"Usually Mum and Dad tell you 'Good game' and it cheers you up so I guess it would feel a bit lonely but I'm just happy I'm living at home.
"Back in the day we used to sleep in one room, me and my three brothers, sharing the one bed, and I'm just happy that we all live together. Hopefully one day we can build a big house and get our own rooms.
"Most parents want their kids to move out but my parents, they want us to live there for life," added Simona, who said he would only move out once he was married.
But Simona's primary responsibility this weekend is for he and his teammates to show the rugby league world that their powerful Four Nations displays signalled a new player in the game's power base.
Samoa went down to England by six points in the tournament opener and then were dealt a heart-breaking last-minute loss to New Zealand in Whangarei, a performance he said stuck with the Kiwis.
"They (New Zealand) even said it themselves, that we were the toughest team they played in the Four Nations," said Simona, who played in the unfamiliar position of fullback in each of Samoa's three games.
"Everyone had written us off and said that we were there just to make up numbers but I thought we actually competed against the top three teams in the world.
"We were in every game so very proud of the boys' effort in the Four Nations and we've got a similar side this year."