NSW Origin forward Tariq Sims hasn’t given up hope of remaining with St George Illawarra beyond this season and insists he still has years ahead of him in the NRL.
Sims, who is off contract at the end of the season, said he was fitter than ever and aims to retain his place in the Blues side for the upcoming State of Origin series but admitted he and the Dragons need to be playing better to be considered for selection.
Speaking to the media for the first time since he was omitted from the round one clash with the Warriors after missing the pre-season trials with a calf injury, Sims said he had to accept the decision of coach Anthony Griffin and prove him wrong.
“It’s the coach’s call. I’m a footy player and a competitor, it is what I love to do. If he wanted to drip me into the team like he did that is what I was planning to do,” Sims said.
“I am not going to go against the grain. I love the club, I love the jersey and whatever they say goes.
“How I can control that is through my actions and my efforts on the field to make sure I am out there and doing what I need to be doing at a high level."
The 32-year-old Fiji international has adopted a similar attitude to his playing future.
A Gerringong junior, Sims doesn’t want to leave the Dragons after finally getting the chance to pull on the Red V jersey in 2016 following stints with North Queensland and Sunday’s opponents Newcastle but he also knows he may have no choice.
“I'm nowhere near the end," Sims said. "I'm probably the fittest and strongest that I've ever been in my whole career.
"It's no secret the start of my career was injury plagued, but that's given me the longevity I've needed to stay in the game.
"I've taken the licks with suspension as well, so that has sort of taught me to be able to adjust and last as long as I have in the NRL. I'm firing on all cylinders to be brutally honest."
Asked if he still had hopes of staying in Wollongong next season, Sims said: "Anything is possible".
“You go out there and play as a hard as you can for a team and when your time comes, your time comes," he said.
"All I can control is how good I am playing, what I am doing for the boys and how I am approaching training and making sure we are going out there to win footy games."
With the match against the Warriors being St George Illawarra's only win since their 19-18 defeat of the New Zealand-based team on July 2 last year, Sims said the players were determined to quickly turn things around.\
“It has been tough, I’m not going to sugar coat it," Sims said. "I always play with my heart on my sleeve and wins are hard to come by in the NRL. There are no easy teams.
“Winning has always been my priority. I am more determined than ever to play great football. With the players we have in our team, it is exciting. We have been training well but that doesn’t transfer into the games."
To return to the winner's circle, the Dragons will need to overcome a Knights outfit seeking to bounce back from consecutive losses to the Panthers, Sharks and Sea Eagles.
There has also been speculation over the future of star fullback Kalyn Ponga and criticism of both his form and decision to meet with Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett about the possibility of joining the new NRL franchise in 2023.
"He will be coming out to prove a point," Sims said of Ponga. "That is what the high profile players do. He will be coming out to make a statement for himself and his club.
“They are under the pump as well, and a desperate team is a dangerous team."