Sims proud of young Knights' resilience
It has been a brutal introduction into the harsh realities of life in the Telstra Premiership but Newcastle co-captain Tariq Sims says the character of his young brigade remains unbroken.
The Knights host the in-form Sharks at Hunter Stadium on Sunday sitting at the foot of the competition ladder with just the one win and three heavy defeats in excess of 30 points in the first nine weeks of the season.
Coach Nathan Brown has been forced to use 30 players – the most in the NRL – prior to Round 10, nine of whom have been NRL debutants.
David Bhana, Jaelen Feeney, Cory Denniss, Josh King, Pat Mata'utia, Will Pearsall, Brock Lamb twins Daniel and Jacob Saifiti have all been blooded in 2016, with Lamb the latest debutant in the side's 38-0 loss to the Roosters in Round 9.
Although many may question whether such exposure at a young age could inhibit the development of a talented group of young players, Sims told NRL.com that they remain as determined as the senior members of the squad to turn things around.
"It's a crash-course in getting experience. There's no way around it and we've got to dig our heels in," Sims said.
"Some blokes are having to learn quicker than others but that's how footy goes. We're going through a bit of a rebuild at this stage and we've just got to make sure we're trusting in 'Browny' and doing what he's saying. The future looks bright.
"They are determined not to give up. We might let a try in or drop a game or two but they still turn up come Monday as excited as ever and willing to train their arse off to hold their spot and to better themselves individually."
Having represented Country Origin last weekend in Tamworth Sims is now preparing to play just his fifth game of the NRL season on Sunday after he was forced to miss the opening month through suspension.
As one of the designated leaders at the club he admitted that it was difficult to watch the heavy defeats from the sidelines but has vowed to make sure he remains on the field for the remainder of the season.
"It was pretty tough. Nobody likes to sit on the sideline and I definitely don't, especially being fit and healthy to play," said Sims, who shares the Newcastle captaincy duties with Trent Hodkinson and Jeremy Smith.
"That's a bit more of a kick in the teeth but I had to cop my punishment and I did my time on the sidelines and now I've got to make sure I'm squeaky clean and making sure that I'm doing everything that I possibly can to stay on the field."
While in camp with the Country team Sims watched on as the Fijian team went down in a thrilling Pacific Test 24-22 to Papua New Guinea.
It marked the first time since the 2009 Pacific Cup that a Fijian team had played without at least one member of the Sims family and Tariq could give no guarantees that he would be back with the Bati for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
"My goal is obviously to try and get into the Australian squad. I want to do my best to give it a go but I'll cross that bridge when we get to it," said Sims, who has played five Tests for Fiji to date.
"Obviously bitterly disappointed for the Bati but saw some really positive signs. It was the same sort of thing [as City-Country], some passes were coming off and some good tries were scored.
"If we were to lose that game on the weekend then the Pacific Islander boys don't get the chance to showcase their goods in front of a bigger stage than they usually would reach."