St George Illawarra Dragons forward Tariq Sims has made no secret of his desire to play State of Origin and he views Friday’s clash with Cronulla as a key opportunity to stake his claim.
Sims has entered a rich vein of form of late, with the back rower playing a key role in the Dragons unbeaten start to the season.
He will line up on Friday night opposite current Blue Wade Graham, former Blues captain Paul Gallen and prop Andrew Fifita, who has recently declared his intent to represent Tonga above NSW.
Sims is determined to put on a performance that impresses NSW coach Brad Fittler’s eye.
“I’m making no bones about it,” Sims said. “I want to be in that team, I want to be in that squad, I want to be a part of the Blues. There’s a lot of things I need to do to show Brad Fittler before I hopefully get picked.
“No doubt [this is an opportunity to impress]. Wade Graham, he’s been a great footballer for a long time. He’s a big, strong, aggressive bloke that can also ball play.
“It’s no secret what I need to do, I need to make sure I’m getting my reps in at training, making sure I’m focusing on the little things for our team and we can score points on the back of that.”
Sims is one of a host of Dragons forwards pressing their claims for Origin selection, with Paul Vaughan, Cameron McInnes and Jack de Belin looking to join Tyson Frizell in a Blues jumper.
The key to Sims’ chances, he believes, is his ability to play multiple positions.
“I just need to continue being a consistent footballer. I can play in the middle, I can play on the edge, back row, it’s not like it’s a foreign thing to me. I can play left side, I can play right side, so it’s up to me to keep playing good, solid, strong football to impress Brad.”
Heading into the season, Sims was no certainty to start for the Dragons, with Luciano Leilua leading a host of back rowers pushing for selection. It’s this competition for positions that Sims believes has triggered the impressive run of form.
“We’ve got some great depth here and a lot of players that could easily step into a starting role if needed. I think that pressure of trying to keep that starting spot is definitely motivating me.”
The Dragons defeated Cronulla in round two in a scrappy affair and Sims knows the Dragons forwards must lay the platform for victory by nullifying the Sharks big pack.
“They have a strong pack, obviously they’ve got big Fifita and he moves like an edge back rower. We’ve got to make sure we’re putting pressure on him and, pretty much all their forwards. They’ve been doing a really good job and keeping a very mobile pack together. It’s up to us to take the fight to them.”