ST GEORGE Illawarra forward Tariq Sims is confident a shift to the middle of the field can help him recapture the form that took him to the cusp to NSW Origin selection before injuries put the hand-brake on his career.
The five-time Country Origin representative has long been on the radar of representative selectors since bursting on to the scene with North Queensland in 2011 only to suffer a number of injury setbacks – including twice breaking his leg in the space of 12 months.
“There’s been some dark days I’m not going to lie,” Sims says of his early-career injury woes
“But I’m lucky I’ve got a great support network around me. My family’s been great and my wife’s been my major supporter and the drive to want to win and play football for my family, my kids and my teammates...they’re the last people you want to let down, so that’s always been there.”
Injury and suspension also hampered his time at Newcastle where he was ultimately let go a half a season early after signing a three-year deal with the Dragons.
The early departure saw the 26-year-old cop some criticism from the Knights faithful, even prompted coach Nathan Brown to leap to his defence, but Sims has only good things to say about his time at the club.
“There’s no frustration, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there,” Sims said.
“I loved every second I was there. Unfortunately the beauty and the beast in this game is what happened. I moved down on the Wednesday and was playing the Saturday night [round 15] for the team so it was full throttle.
“When we finished up the season I had ankle surgery and had to get that right and then I went over to WA and got married so, it’s been a crazy, hectic last two- three months but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m fully focused on the Dragons now and excited to get through this preseason get stuck into the trial matches and roll our sleeves up for round one.”
That includes a shift to the engine room this year as coach Paul McGregor looks to juggle an embarrassment off riches up front that includes NSW Origin star Tyson Frizell and Country representatives Paul Vaughan, Jack de Belin and Joel Thompson.
It means Sims could well be competing with some club teammates to earn that elusive blue jumper but it’s a situation he expects to bring out the best in him.
“At the moment I’m preparing to play in the middle,” Sims said.
“I played 99 games at [edge] back row and that’s not something you forget overnight. If I’m called upon I know I can do a job there but I’m very excited about learning my new position which is a roving lock or middle player.
“I’m constantly testing myself every day here coming into preseason when you look at the cattle we have here, the de Belin's the Paul Vaughan’s the Frizell’s the Thompson’s and that sort of stuff.
“The competition and the drive to want to win, and the young blokes who are coming through is pretty refreshing. I’m one of the most competitive people you’ll ever come across and we’re having some really good tussles out there.
“Hopefully that can help me sharpen my tools and make sure I’m ready if Loz [Laurie Daley] does call.”