Knights back-rower Tariq Sims has described how inspired he was by Country Origin legends when growing up and his excitement behind representing the bush once again on Sunday afternoon.
As he prepares for his fifth Country Origin game at Tamworth's Scully Park, Sims said rubbing shoulders with older brother Ashton's former Dragons teammates when he was younger – most of which he has or will spend time in Country camp with – helped him develop his desire to become an NRL player.
Even at 26 years old, the Gerringong Lions junior was buzzed by the fact Bulldogs and Dubbo legend Andrew Ryan was able to give him a lift from Newcastle to Country's camp in Sydney on Monday.
"To play in the City v Country games and being a boy from the bush and watching blokes like Trent Barrett and Shaun Timmins growing up was inspiring," Sims told NRL.com.
"My brother (Ashton) was playing in their team when I was younger and I was lucky enough to throw a couple of footballs with them. I'll never forget that.
"There were a couple of training sessions back then where 'Timmo' actually dropped the shoulder into me a couple of times so those interactions with these mega stars of the game is something I'll hold in my memory bank for as long as I can.
"It was definitely an unreal buzz for me growing up. Being able to rub shoulders with these blokes, I'll never forget those little moments. Even when 'Bobcat' (Ryan) came and picked me up from home I was pretty chuffed about myself."
Much like Timmins, Barrett, Ryan and new Country coach Craig Fitzgibbon before him, the next goal Sims is out to achieve is earning a maiden New South Wales jumper.
"I've made no secret about it: I want to play for the Blues," Sims said.
"We're doing it pretty tough at the Knights at the moment but it'll be good to be amongst another enjoyable week with the Country side.
"I'm not going to rest on that though. I won't be happy until I'm pulling on a sky blue jersey and if I'm even lucky enough to do that I won't be happy until we're holding the shield up. It's just one of those things that I'll keep chipping away at."
Sims was also devastated for brother Korbin who was suspended from representing Fiji on Saturday night.
Korbin's ill-fortune denies the Sims family a representative treble for the second consecutive year as sister Ruan gears up to captain the Jillaroos for the first time.
"You never want to miss any game but he'll cop his punishment on his chin and move on quickly from it," Sims said. "Nobody likes to dwell on those sort of things."