Sims rises from broken legs to Origin brink again
Seven years after the first of two broken legs that dashed his sky-blue dreams, Tariq Sims is once again 80 minutes away from the interstate arena, with a Panthers outfit in his way yet again.
As the NRL's form enforcer, Sims is firming for a long-awaited Blues debut in Brad Fittler's new-look NSW side for next month's series opener at the MCG.
In 2012, Ricky Stuart called then-Cowboy Sims an hour before he took the field against Penrith in Townsville, telling him he would be 18th man for the Blues the following week.
A second-half collision with now-Panthers assistant Cameron Ciraldo broke Sims' tibia and fibula, the same two bones that snapped nine months earlier against Cronulla, sidelining the bullocking 21-year-old when his first finals series beckoned.
Ex-Cowboy James Tamou was present both nights Sims went through rugby league's wringer.
Having once feared Sims would never be the same for his harrowing injury run, Tamou lines up opposite his former teammate as he pushes for Origin honours once more in Saturday's top of the table Dragons-Panthers clash.
"I remember having a chat with him about it one time and the mentality of it, you can only imagine that struggle, but it did rock him," Tamou recalled of Sims' injury woes at North Queensland.
"Of course it did, that confidence, even when he got his body right, his head wasn't there, which you can understand.
"He wasn't himself, and we knew. He was going home a lot as you do and we didn't see him much.
"Those broken legs really played a part in his career, but I don't think we'll be saying it defined him, he's come out on top which is great."
After a breakout year with the Cowboys that Tamou dubbed "freakish", North Queensland never saw Sims reach his true potential before granting a release on personal grounds to Newcastle in 2014.
Two and a half years later the Gerringong junior took a pay cut to link with the Dragons in his old stomping ground.
Now another 18 months on, Sims is a key pillar in the Red V pack and Tamou is proud as punch, albeit wary of containing him before a near-capacity crowd at Panthers Stadium.
"We all saw the talent he had there at the Cowboys and that edge really suits Taz, he's a really big reason the Dragons are going well at the moment," Tamou told NRL.com.
"That Dragons pack, any one of them are in the type of form that could see them picked (for Origin).
"Credit to them, they're big, mobile, skilful and in form right across their pack.
"They've got James Graham, Tariq, Tyson Frizell, they're the pinnacle, they're the best forwards in the game right now."