“I moved up to Brisbane for the under-20s at the end of 2007, and ‘Hook’ was my twenties coach,” Sims tells the Herald. “I did the pre-season on the wing and I was about 85kg holding two wet shoes and a bucket.
“On my birthday in February I got a fine for driving in a T2 lane. I’d just come from Gerringong where there are no T2 lanes. I was making $315 a week working and I was fined $300.
“Then I pulled into training and Hook says, ‘I need to talk to you’, so he called me into his office and then politely told me how I’m not a winger and how I should move into the middle.
“He dropped me back to Norths Devils and said I couldn’t come back until I was 100kg. They were getting me to wake up in the middle of the night and eat sandwiches. I was bloody petrified of Hook, but at the same time I was determined to prove the prick wrong.
“Halfway through that year I got to 100kg, it was for one game against St George down at WIN Stadium. In 2009, I was started every game off the bench, then in 2010 he turned me into the player of the year.”
Sims felt like a ”charity case” when he first moved to the Broncos given his brothers Ashton and Korbin were already at Red Hill.
Griffin’s directness and honesty gave Tariq the belief in himself. Once he had reached 100kg, Griffin asked him to pile on another 10kg. Griffin’s half-time sprays, normally directed at him, made sure Sims kept pushing himself.
“What Hook did was force me to become a better person and player and accountable for my actions,” Sims said. “I was able to pick up the twenties player of the year, and that was because of the fear I had of his half-time sprays and the desire to play in the famous Broncos jersey.”
“What you see is what you get with Hook. He won’t lie to you and will tell you how it is. He expects that in return. The only thing that has changed is he’s picked up a few extra jokes. They’re terrible, but they’re dad jokes so I find them quite hilarious.”
Sims was limited to just nine games last season because of injury. Without James Graham and Tyson Frizell, plus the uncertainty surrounding Jack De Belin, the Dragons will need Sims, who turns 31 early next year and will reach 200 games without injury, to lift again.
This is the first off-season Sims has not required surgery. It is a refreshing change, he says, being able to train the first month rather than being a recovering spectator.
The Dragons missed out on tough Tiger Zane Musgrove and young Panther Spencer Leniu, but have added Jack Bird, who will start life back at the Dragons in the forwards.
Sims said as much as he loved former coach Paul McGregor, ‘If there was going to be someone to come in, I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else other than Hook”.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.