HE’S got a wardrobe full of Blues training gear but Dragons forward Tariq Sims insists he’s not kicking stones despite a long-awaited Origin debut remaining just out of reach.
The 28-year-old Gerringong product was first called into NSW camp as a boom rookie in 2011 and was 18th man for the Blues in game two of the 2015 series.
He reprised that role at the MCG on Wednesday, with many considering him desperately unlucky to miss selection in Brad Fittler’s final 17.
It would be enough to leave most people bitter but Sims was anything but on his return to Dragons training on Friday, saying he’s chomping at the bit to get back on the park against Canterbury on Monday.
“I was happy to play my role as 18th man for the team,” Sims said.
“Obviously I’d love to be playing but the game plan we went with was to pick the players that we did and it worked out pretty well for us on the night.
“We had a really good camp, everyone knows Freddie’s a real character and we all have a laugh but, behind closed doors, he’s very strategic.
“He knows exactly what he wants out of his players and he knows how to get the best out of his players. I had to sit down and watch the game, I probably had the second best seat in the house other than playing, so I’m really looking forward to this weekend.”
Being named 18th man presumably makes him first cab off the rank should injury strike any of the Blues forwards in the lead-up to game two.
Sims said he’s happy to have forced his way back into the frame, but won’t be taking anything for granted until he’s on the playing pitch in a Blue jumper.
“It’s nice but I’m under no illusions that my spot in the side’s ever safe,” Sims said.
“I think the whole team has the same attitude. We’ve still got two more games to go in the series and the feeling after the game was that the job’s only just started.
“Hopefully we can get through this period and come into game two and three nice, fit and healthy.
“It’s one of those things where you have to keep playing good consistent football for your club. That starts this weekend against the Bulldogs.”
The rest of the Dragons Origin contingent returned to training on but won’t take the park until Sunday’s captain’s run at the earliest.
Ben Hunt and Jack de Belin carried niggles into game one, with the latter sporting huge strapping on his troublesome hip, but Sims expects both to play on Monday.
“I think that was just more precaution,” Sims said of de Belin’s strapping.
“We had a really long day of travel [on Thursday] and he was a bit sore but, other than that, it’s fine.
“He got through the game well, he got a couple of big knocks on it and said it pulled up sweet, so I’m looking forward to seeing him back here for captain’s run.
“All the Origin boys pulled up sweet so I’m looking forward to getting back out on the paddock with them and playing some footy.”