19th July 2018, 10:00 | toronto_wolfpack
Take one look at Ashton Sims and you may think you’re looking at a Game of Thrones character; long hair, bushy beard, sleeve tattoos and the sheer size of him, you’d be a brave person to face-off with him.
Rugby League can be a hard-hitting sport, as a player once you cross over that white line and the referee blows his whistle, you take no prisoners, off-the-field he’s the polar opposite; humble, loving and like the Roald Dahl book ‘Big Friendly Giant’.
For Sims and his family there is no divide between sporting loyalties, only a loyalty to Rugby League, his younger brother Tariq recently played in State of Origin for New South Wales, Sims’ youngest brother Korbin plays for Brisbane Broncos, while his elder sister Ruan represented Australia women’s team in 2010.
“Rugby League doesn’t owe me anything, I owe everything to Rugby League, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Rugby League, I probably wouldn’t have left my little spot where I am from in Gerringong if it wasn’t for Rugby League.”
Sims added: “One of the proudest moments I’ve had watching any game is when Taz (Tariq) is playing, we’re all close, my two brothers and two sisters.
“I played four years in Queensland with Tariq, I was there when he snapped his leg two years in a row.
“I remember watching him walking around for 18 months and trying to run on it, people said it will be tough for him to get back, but you know, he’s the epitome of hard work, sometimes when life throws things at you, you’ve got to dig your spurs into it and fightback.
“Where he’s come from, to what he’s accomplished is inspirational to me, and I’m his older brother,” Sims said.
Few boys up n early watching #Origin here in Toronto. Some of the best defence I’ve seen right there. #UpTheblues Nothing like watching the lil bro @tariq_sims in the worlds best jersey #GerringongLions 👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/hFG3hXGg9n— Ashton Sims (@ashtonsims26) July 11, 2018
Sims moved from NRL side North Queensland to Super League side Warrington Wolves in 2015, at the beginning of this season he moved across the Atlantic Ocean to Toronto Wolfpack.
A country boy at heart, Sims moved to Toronto, Canada’s largest city, knowing the hustle and bustle of city life was a stark comparison to where he had grown up in Gerringong, Australia.
“For me it’s easy to adapt anywhere, I’ll sleep on a washing line if I had to.
“There’s an old Metallica song, ‘wherever I may roam, where I lay my head is home,’ as long as I have got my family, my wife and four kids I’ll move anywhere.
“The hardest part is being away from them for a big chunk of time, I’m missing out on the kids with their school and sports but at the end of the day this is my job, this is what puts food on the table,” the Fijian international said.
Sims’ new side are new to the Betfred Championship, their inaugural season in 2017 saw them win the League One title, this year they have already won the League Leaders’ Shield and the Canadian’s have their eyes firmly set on the Super 8s Qualifiers.
“This Super 8s Qualifiers is a whole different kettle of fish, we’re in our little competition, where we’ve got Super League clubs fighting for survival and Championships clubs battling for promotion.
“Just because we’ve had a good year so far doesn’t mean that we are automatically going to get into Super League.
“There’s no complacency here in our squad, we’ve got to travel a lot further than others, so we’ve got to keep that in mind when it comes to recovery and time-zone changes.
“We definitely know that Super League teams are going to be a step-up and the Championship teams that we will face will definitely step-up again,” he said.
Great to get the trophy but jobs only half done ✅— Ashton Sims (@ashtonsims26) July 8, 2018
Massive thanks to the @TOwolfpack faithful for supporting us all year🙌🏼 More importantly the families we’ve been away from for the last 6 weeks, you are appreciated ❤️ pic.twitter.com/y4oUy8ht3T
How do you celebrate winning in the League Leaders’ Shield? Well, in Canada, Wolfpack were asked to open Toronto’s stock exchange.
“It was a crazy experience, I’ve never been into a big financial building like that down in the financial district in Toronto.
“It was a huge honour to get asked as the Wolfpack to go down there and open the day’s trading.
“We’re getting a lot of love from our city, a lot of people are supporting us and asking about us; even the Raptors, Maple Leafs, and Blue Jays tweeted us and congratulated us,” the forward said.
Sims has been a success on the pitch in the NRL, Super League and now in Toronto, but for him it’s not all about the on-field successes but what is currently happening off-the-pitch.
“It’s great to be a success on the field, that’s really good, but we’re all about building our brand and getting kids playing our sport.
“I’ve got an expansionist mindset but with a community heart, I want these community clubs from Yorkshire to Lancashire to those down in London.
“I want them all to flourish and be successful, I want the opportunity to help with players, coaches and administrative staff to take our branding to North America,” Sims added.
His side face Rochdale Hornets this weekend and will be looking to extend their impressive winning streak to 18 games, their last game before the Super 8s Qualifiers sees them face Featherstone Rovers.