Simpkins saddling up for Qld
RYAN Simpkins will be the Seagulls’ Lone Ranger when the Queensland Residents tackle their NSW counterparts in the State of Origin III curtain-raiser tomorrow week.
One of Tweed Heads’ best, for the past two seasons in particular, the workhorse back-rower was given the Queensland Cup’s highest honours after impressing in the City-Country clash at Gympie last Saturday.
“What a season – I made my first appeareance for Country and now earned a call-up for Residents,” Simpkins said.
“It’s a goal you set yourself at the start of the year and it was a fantastic feeling when I stumbled across it on the QRL website. I’ve got a little bigger and I’ve matured a lot as a footballer in the last year or so and I just go out every week and try to give my best, and it’s paid off.”
However, the local hero will run on to ANZ Stadium without Seagulls team-mates and Country companions Tonto (veteran pivot Brad Davis), Silver (lighting-fast outside back Shannon Walker) and Cactus Pete (rampaging second rower Selasi Berdie) by his side.
Both Davis and Berdie became household names in Q-Cup circles after stellar state league performances but both were notable omissions following a tumultuous season for Tweed.
Interestingly, Davis, the incumbent Residents five-eighth and captain who skippered Country to a commanding 20-12 triumph over City, was overlooked for Souths Logan’s Brad Cross who didn’t even play in the “selection” match. Four other players, all of whom didn’t take part at Gympie but are affiliated with NRL clubs, were also given the nod.
Forwards Josh McGuire (Brisbane/Norths) and Jamie Buhrer (Manly/Sunshine Coast) are two possible explanations for Berdie’s absence, while fullback David Milne (Canberra/Souths Logan) and centre Steve Michaels (Brisbane/Burleigh) were the others to walk into Maroon jumpers. “It would have been good to run out alongside blokes I’ve played a lot of footy with, and feel for a couple of them, but that’s the way it goes I guess,” Simpkins said. “It can be hard sometimes, particularly with a lot of blokes coming back from NRL because they usually get the jump on you.”
The qualified plumber will go into camp in Brisbane this Friday with the rest of the Residents outfit before flying to Sydney early next week. Hence the downside for Tweed league fans is that their top-tackler will be missing in action for the Seagulls’ clash with Northern Pride at Ned Byrne Field on Saturday. Though Simpkins admits a little piece of him wishes he could be at Cudgen.