GERRINGONG’S Tariq Sims still remembers when his mum would drive him and younger brother Korbin to Illawarra Steelers training as teenagers.
Jacqueline Sims would watch the entire session, yelling out words of advice from the sideline and offering encouragement as her sons embarked on the early steps of the journey to professional rugby league.
From 2019, the two boys will again share the same training paddock, with the brothers set to be reunited at WIN Stadium after Korbin signed a three-year deal with St George Illawarra.
Unsurprisingly, Tariq can’t wait to play alongside his brother once again.
“We haven’t been together in Wollongong since I was 15 and he was 14,” Sims said.
“For Harrold Matts and SG Ball, Korbin was in the younger team and I was in the older team and obviously we couldn’t drive. Mum used to sit down here and constantly watch us training, critiquing what we can and can’t do and what we should and shouldn’t do.”
A versatile forward, Sims will help plug the gap created by Leeson Ah Mau’s departure, with the Samoan international set to leave the club after seven seasons.
While disappointed to see Ah Mau depart, Tariq is confident Korbin can add plenty of aggression to an already imposing Dragons forward pack.
“We lose such a great player like Leeson, he’s devoted so much to this team and he’s added so much to this team, he’s been such a good, consistent player for us, losing him was a big loss.
“But we pick up Korbin where he’s coming into his prime as a front-rower … As a growing front rower, he brings a lot of aggression and obviously he can ball play a lot. At the Knights he was probably overplaying his hand a bit too much, but that was probably because of the situation we were in.
“Now that he’s going to be coming to this pack, hopefully he’ll add that aggression, that injection off the bench that all the clubs look for.”
Dragons recruitment manager Ian Millward said the club sees Sims as an emerging forward capable of turning his potential into a Queensland Origin jumper.
"Korbin has some really good years in front of him,” Millward said.
“We believe he is coming into his prime, and he brings us some stability and experience as well as being a really good replacement for Leeson moving forward.”
The signing comes as the Dragons attempt to return to the winner’s circle against the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday night.
Tariq made his NRL debut for the Cowboys and he’s eager to return to Townsville to face Jonathan Thurston for the last time.
“It’s a very special ground for me,” Sims said.
“I made my debut there, I played a lot of years there, to be going up against Jono [Jonathan Thurston] at the old stomping ground is pretty special.
“We want to win every game, we want to win them convincingly, we want to put as many runs on the board as we can, and that starts this weekend against the Cowboys. We’ve had back to back losses now and that’s something that we need to bounce back from.
“We’ll be desperate going up there, we’re under no illusions, the Cowboys are a desperate side, being JT’s last year, that’s just another incentive for them ... We’ve got to make sure that we go out there with our heads down and bums up.”