Korbin Sims to reunite with Tariq as Dragons sign Broncos prop
It's an indication of how seriously Tariq Sims treats State of Origin that the Dragons forward didn't know he and brother Korbin would be reunited next year until he was told he had to front the media on Wednesday.
Tariq was informed about the deal on the same training field where their mother Jacqueline used to watch them as juniors at WIN Stadium.
Despite growing up in Gerringong and playing in the Illawarra Steelers junior representative teams, Korbin has pledged his allegiances to Queensland while Tariq last week made his debut for NSW.
As a result, the brothers have had little contact during the Origin period and while Tariq had spoken to Korbin about joining St George Illawarra he didn't know the Brisbane prop was returning home until asked to speak to reporters at training after the three-year deal was announced.
"It is a sore point," Tariq said about Korbin aligning with the Maroons after signing with the Broncos as a teenager. "While this has all been going on we haven't been talking.
"I'm assuming everyone else knew but I didn't find out until I got told I had media. They just said, 'you're up, we want you to talk about how we have just signed your brother'. I said, 'how good is that'."
An excited Sims pointed out to media the spot on the western side of the No.2 ground at WIN Stadium where his mother used to sit and offer advice to him and Korbin while they were training for the Steelers' Harold Mathews Cup and SG Ball Cup teams.
"We couldn't drive so Mum used to sit on the other side of that demountable [building] at every training session and just spray us," Tariq said. "She'd tell us what we were doing right, and what we were doing wrong."
The advice clearly did no harm, as Tariq, Korbin and older brother Ashton all made it to the Telstra Premiership and were all recruited by the Broncos in 2008 after Ashton had started his career as a Dragon.
Korbin was just 15 and qualifies for Queensland as it was before the Origin eligibility rules were changed to stipulate a player must reside in the state before the age of 13.
He and Tariq played together at Newcastle, where Korbin first rose to prominence as an aggressive front-rower, earning a call-up into the Maroons' 20-man squad in 2015.
"It is a pretty special moment and I am obviously very excited to get Korbin back down here playing some good football," Tariq said. "We talk being family but as far as where he was with his decision and what he wanted to do, that was all up to him.
"I said to him I'd love to have you here and explained what we are building towards and what sort of direction we are going in but ultimately the decision was up to him.
"Luckily we have got a good recruitment tool in Mary [coach Paul McGregor]. He addresses his players and talks to his players like they are family so whatever was said behind closed doors obviously worked."
Sims will replace New Zealand forward Leeson Ah Mau, who is returning to Auckland to join the Warriors at the end of the season.
"He is a 27-year-old front rower who is just coming into his prime," Tariq said of Korbin. "He has had a few injuries but on the other side of that the rest of his body has had a lot of time to heal and as a growing front-rower he brings a lot of aggression, and he can ball play a bit too."
With the emergence of Tevita Pangai jnr, Matt Lodge, Payne Haas and David Fifita, he has slid down the Broncos pecking order this season, and will join the Dragons on the recommendation of mentor Wayne Bennett.
"The club spoke to Wayne Bennett about Korbin, and he gave him a big rap as a person and coachable-wise, and where he sees him developing moving forward. We're really pleased to get him on board," Dragons director of pathways Ian Millward said.
"We know how close Korbin was to playing for Queensland, and he's seen the advancement of [brother] Tariq to play Origin this season as well as Jack de Belin, Paul Vaughan and Tyson Frizell so we know he's keen to follow in their footsteps."
The signing of Sims, who has played 112 NRL games and seven Tests for Fiji, also bodes well for St George Illawarra's retention of Tariq when he comes off contract at the end of next season.