He’s the mainstay in the VB Country Origin team and when the fixture’s all-time finale comes around in May, Tariq Sims wants to be there again.
Sims, who has represented the Country side consecutively since his debut in 2012, is the team’s most capped current player and, if selected in the final Country-City game next month, will be equal second of all time behind Laurie Daley. While the Gerringong junior is sad to see the end of the concept, he hopes to be there when it wraps up in Mudgee on Sunday, 7 May.
“Playing for Country has always been a highlight of my career – I’ve played the last couple of years straight and this year’s no different,” Sims tells NSWRL.com.au. “As anyone who’s played for Country will tell you it’s a special week – we get some legends in to help motivate us, help bring the group together and give back to the Country Rugby League.
“That’s what it’s all about.
“Obviously it’s very disappointing when you hear that it’s the last game of City-Country.
“Until you play in it or you’ve been around it during that week of football you don’t realise how much it actually does give back. We have to move on and make sure we represent country people as best we can in the last game.
“I want to make sure I’m in that jersey and in the mix come the State of Origin time.”
Origin, of course, has remained unchartered territory for the 27-year-old, despite being lauded for his potential early in his career and earning an 18th man call-up in 2015. That task is still on the radar for Sims, but first he wants to perform well for the Dragons – and once again become a regular NRL starter.
“I’m fully focused on trying to do my best for St George and I’ll let the rest of that sort of stuff speak for itself down the track,” Sims explains. “Mine and Leeson (Ah Mau’s) role at the moment is just to come off the bench and lift the tempo of the game and if it needs to be changed, change it in our favour.
“Any footy player that you ask, they’ll tell you that they want a starting jersey and I’m trying to push my case. We’re all really pushing for that starting jersey which is creating that competitive atmosphere at training.
“If you’re playing well and the team’s playing well it’s no secret that the rep jerseys will come later down the track.”
Sims has also represented Fiji in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup alongside brothers Ashton and Queensland-eligible Korbin. Selection for the Bati in the 2017 World Cup remains a possibility, but Sims’ preference would be to represent Australia, which his sister Ruan has led in the Jillaroos.
“It’d be a pretty handy team if we get everyone back fit and healthy to play (for Fiji),” Sims adds, “but obviously I’d love to represent Australia. I’ll have to deal with that when it comes to that bridge.”
The next task for Sims, of course, will be on Saturday afternoon, when the Dragons travel to Lottoland to take on the in-form Sea Eagles.
“We’ve got a pretty tough ask this week against Manly; they’ve won their last three, they’re on fire and you can really start to see their attitude during games,” Sims says. “They’ll be coming fired up and we’ve just got to make sure we go up there to ‘Brookie’ with a good attitude and want to win.”
The attitude at the Dragons seems to be working and with a number of representative honours on the line, Sims will be working hard to keep his name in selectors’ minds.