Simona is his harshest critic
A candid Tim Simona says he was disappointed with his form for the Wests Tigers last season and is determined to do everything in his powers to make amends in 2017.
It was a surprising admission from the 25-year-old given it was statistically his best season since 2013 in terms of tries, although he did make more errors and averaged fewer metres than he did in the previous two years.
The speedy centre enjoyed a purple patch in the middle of the year when he scored in five straight games between rounds 12-17, but either side of that he only managed one four-pointer for the black and golds.
Simona - who had a shoulder reconstruction after the 2016 season - had spoken about his form with Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor who didn't share his views.
The Samoan representative said he wanted to get more involved – particularly in attack – and was confident he had the tools necessary to do so.
"Personally I was pretty disappointed with my year. I really want to have a big year [in 2017] and hopefully I can do that," Simona told NRL.com at the launch of the Auckland Nines at Rugby League Central on Wednesday.
"I spoke one-on-one with my coach and he told me that I'd had a pretty good year, but I just know for myself as a player that I've got plenty more to prove.
"It's a bit of everything. Attack, defence, and mental – I can push myself [more] when I'm tired and stuff like that. I want to get more involved and get my hands on the ball more and lead the boys around. I think I can do that better."
With new recruit Jamal Idris impressing all and sundry in the pre-season, and with several Holden Cup graduates keen to impress the coaching staff, Simona wants to lift his game to new heights to ensure he's there for the Tigers' Round 1 showdown with the Rabbitohs on March 3.
"It's not only Jamal [applying pressure]. We've got a lot of young guys coming up through the ranks," he said.
"Watson Heleta and a few of the young players coming through the 20s are emerging and they're trying to find a spot as well. For me, I just want to keep going at it, keep training hard and hopefully I can be in that starting team come 2017."
Before Simona can start to worry about 2017, he and his teammates must first survive a torturous pre-season camp in Bulli.
The Wests Tigers are currently in the middle of a week-long camp on New South Wales' south coast, and according to Simona, it is more gruelling than anything he's ever experienced.
"We did a biathlon, it was sort of an ironman in the morning and then we climbed hills in the afternoon," he said.
"It was pretty tough, but that's what pre-season is all about. It's about getting the boys to come together and bond, work as a team and stuff like that.
"That's by far the hardest thing I've done in a pre-season. My legs are still shaking from the hill runs yesterday. We've got a day off today and then back into it tomorrow.
"The boys are loving it. We love training hard and working for each other.
"The boys will say it's one of the hardest things that they've ever done, but you can't back away. You've got to do what you've got to do in the pre-season. Finding the extra energy now will hopefully make all the difference next year."