ROB SIMMONS: From country boy to playing for a rival – how a lifelong Red joined the Waratahs

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    Rob Simmons has gone from playing for Queensland to becoming a key member of the Waratahs. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

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    I never thought I’d end up making a career out of playing rugby.

    Rugby was a big part of my schoolboy days but I’d always thought that, after finishing school, I’d go home to the farm and work with my parents.

    While I was looking to get a bit of experience elsewhere (so I didn’t always work for my dad!), I thought I’d just be a country boy for the rest of my life.

    Then, in the final year of school, I was approached by Queensland to go into the academy there.

    I rang my parents up and said what had happened and that I’d like to give it a go.

    They laid out what the possible regime would look like. It was always going to be tough and, a bit like an actor or artist, you’re gonna get paid nothing at the start.

    It sure was daunting.

    Making the decision to focus on rugby definitely felt like a huge risk, but the potential reward was pretty big too.

    Across all those years with Queensland, the Wallabies and now the Waratahs, I’ve loved it. Still do.

    I’m still lapping up every moment. Getting out of bed every morning, getting to do an enjoyable job – that’s part of the reason I made the decision. I can wake up with a smile on my face every day.

    At the end of last year, I found myself almost having to make that first decision all over again.

    Rob Simmons Wallabies

    (Photo by Jason O’Brien/Getty Images)

    Coming to terms with the fact I wouldn’t be playing for the Reds was very, very tough.

    I knew I’d be going well outside my comfort zone and basically starting all over again.

    It took a while but, thanks to the strong people in my life, we talked it out and the result was lots of excitement about what lay ahead.

    The idea of moving to the New South Wales Waratahs was very tough to get my head around, though.

    If someone had told me five or six years ago that I’d be lining up for the Tahs, I’d have told them they were nuts. I hadn’t even contemplated it until the week it happened.

    The potential to just go overseas, get a good payday, and play out the rest of my career somewhere else entirely was certainly there. But I had a feeling inside me that I still had more to give to Australian rugby and I didn’t want to leave yet.

    I might not have been playing my best but I knew I could get back there. It wasn’t a case of being worn out, and the burning aspiration to play for my country hasn’t gone anywhere either.

    Still, getting my head around whether I could actually play somewhere other than Queensland was tricky.

    I went to my meeting with the Tahs to see what they were thinking, how they were going about their program. Walking out of that meeting, my decision was made. I was really happy with where the club was heading and the way they saw me.

    One thing I’ve really loved about the Waratahs is the new home crowd. They’re really good, really passionate. It’s no secret that they’ve been through some tough years, especially in 2017, yet they’re still very supportive – and you feel that out on the field.


    (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    Looking forward to this week, we’ve got a big game against the Sunwolves on Saturday.

    They may have only won three games, but they’re getting better and better each round. They’ve started being able to match it with the physical sides and are only getting beaten in the last 20 minutes or so.

    As we all saw last week, they had a nice win against the Bulls.

    They play a nice brand of open, attacking rugby and, truth be told, it’s fun playing that style of rugby too. We just have to make sure we stick to our own gameplan and don’t get caught up trying to match it with them too much.

    They’re fresh off a win, so we’re going to have to be playing our best football to walk away with the points. But we’re coming off a good win against the Rebels, one where we didn’t play our best rugby – there wasn’t a lot of possession and field position early on – but were still able to get a great result thanks to our perseverance and sticking to our roles.

    So for this weekend, come out to the game, enjoy it, and make some noise as well. It will definitely be an entertaining match.

    The Waratahs will go up against the Sunwolves this weekend with a chance to cement their place atop the Australian Conference. Be sure to grab a NSW Waratahs home ticket and get down to Allianz Stadium to enjoy all the action.

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    The Crowd Says (58)

    • July 5th 2018 @ 12:51pm
      Orange Fuhrer said | July 5th 2018 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

      2011 was a great year for Qld Rugby.Thanks for your service.

      P.S you were robbed of a fair try in that 2011 Super Final against the Crusaders.

    • July 5th 2018 @ 1:03pm
      Redderthankevin said | July 5th 2018 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

      This comment has been removed for breaching The Roar’s comments policy.

    • July 5th 2018 @ 1:03pm
      Worlds Biggest said | July 5th 2018 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

      Jesus wept the Tahs bashing never ceases to amaze. The crowds are poor for all four Oz teams, not exclusive to Sydney. Thanks for the piece Rob and good luck on the weekend.

    • July 5th 2018 @ 1:11pm
      jameswm said | July 5th 2018 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

      Nice read, welcome to Sydney and the Tahs Rob. I think you’ve stepped up – set piece is still good, but I can notice an improved physicality, especially in defence.

      best of luck for the rest of the season. Maybe I’ll have to get off my butt and go to a game…

    • July 5th 2018 @ 1:28pm
      mick said | July 5th 2018 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

      Nice read Rob. It’s a pity you had to join the old enemy, but it is great to see you playing such good rugby this year.

      Good luck this weekend! The Tahs look like they are coming home strong, I hope you can keep up the momentum this weekend and on through the finals!

    • Roar Guru

      July 5th 2018 @ 2:14pm
      Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

      Rob. Can you comment on you giving the Beau Robinson the hard word about not committing to never play for a team other than the Reds after the 2011 Championship, and then turning up at the stinking Waratahs of all Aussie teams?

      I think that’s what all the punters want to hear about.

      • Roar Rookie

        July 5th 2018 @ 2:44pm
        Sage said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

        Jeez TWAS, stinking Waratahs is a bit harsh. Hard to like and soul -less perhaps but stinking is unnecessary.
        No other comments though. Still feeling the hurt, it’s too soon Rob, too soon. I do feel better when I see you in WB’s kit though.

        • Roar Guru

          July 5th 2018 @ 2:51pm
          Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

          Haha fair call

          • July 5th 2018 @ 6:15pm
            Noodles said | July 5th 2018 @ 6:15pm | ! Report

            Totally off beam TWAS. Simmons was cut by the Reds. Not a secret. Clearly he’s still feeling that. Your comments are fully wrong and unfair.
            I’m hoping that with Rob and three or four others we now have locks that will drive the core of a strong WBs pack to a new level. Fans need to start appreciating and tone down the deprecating.

            • July 6th 2018 @ 12:14am
              Bakkies said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:14am | ! Report

              Agreed Noodles. At least he didn’t sign for Cameron’s mob the Rebels.

            • Roar Guru

              July 6th 2018 @ 8:54am
              Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:54am | ! Report

              Stop getting your panties in a twist.

              He wasn’t “cut” by the Reds. He wasn’t offered a contract. That wasn’t really a reflection on him, but more so the Reds recruitment of Douglas and rise of younger Tui and Rodda who they could sign for less. Had Douglas not been at the Reds, Simmons would still be a Red.

              Anyway, as I said, unbunch your panties. It’s merely a reference to this:


              At this stage, we were probably well and truly into the rum and diet cokes, and big Rob Simmons had a crack at me after I wouldn’t pledge loyalty solely to the Reds. Big Simmo is a diehard Queenslander, as so many are when they’re born and bred north of the Tweed. I reckon there might even be a subject at primary school for Queenslanders where they instil some form of patriotism into the young ones, although Simmo’s parents are actually from Wellington, NSW (go the Redbacks!).

              Rob wasn’t at all aggressive but he was genuinely having a go at me after I wouldn’t rule out ever playing for any other team, including the Waratahs who had sent me packing only a couple of years earlier.

              But I’d been around a bit longer than a lot of these blokes and, even though we’d had success and there was no reason we wouldn’t go on to achieve a great deal more, I realised it was still a business. That’s what professional sports is in today’s environment.

              I just refused to rule any possible option out after my experience in the professional rugby environment, a real ‘never say never’ approach. I had absolutely no reason to want to leave the Reds, especially at the time of this conversation – I loved living in Brissy, playing for the Reds and pretty much anything else to do with the city, state and team at the time.

              But I was also a realist. Big Simmo just couldn’t fathom this. He was a die-hard, through-and-through Queenslander. He no doubt still is.

              Simmo isn’t the only one who I recall ruling out the possibility of playing for a rival only to find themselves since having done so.

              • July 6th 2018 @ 3:52pm
                Noodles said | July 6th 2018 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

                Oh! He wasn’t cut? He just didn’t get a contract!
                Your undies are too tight TWAS.

            • July 6th 2018 @ 12:10pm
              Reality Check said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

              True Noodles, Cheika foisted the inferior Kane Douglas on us. Can we swap him for Rob in season 2019 ?

              • July 6th 2018 @ 1:18pm
                Gepetto said | July 6th 2018 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

                Simmons is great but Kane Douglas is one of the experienced guys carrying the Reds these days, while Carozza stuffs up the backline.

      • July 5th 2018 @ 2:53pm
        Cynical Play said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

        Wrong. We love Rob. He walks the talk. You just flap in the wind.

      • July 5th 2018 @ 2:55pm
        Johnno said | July 5th 2018 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

        Oh TWAS talk about sweating the small stuff, very petty by you your the only punter that wants to hear about it.. 99% of readers wouldn’t of known about that comment or remembered, boy your nit picky today TWAS. And people’s views change and they say things that at the time they thought was the right call, give it a rest TWAS..

        • Roar Guru

          July 5th 2018 @ 3:07pm
          Train Without A Station said | July 5th 2018 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

          Really? Beau wrote about it on this site only 5 months ago.

        • July 5th 2018 @ 3:15pm
          Cynical Play said | July 5th 2018 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

          No mystery here Johhno. TWAS hates the Tahs. That’s it. He’s a Tah-hater. Tah = hate. And he flaps.

      • July 5th 2018 @ 5:22pm
        jameswm said | July 5th 2018 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

        Of course TWAS you don’t need me to tell you Rob was cut from the Reds. He didn’t walk. The guy’s a pro footballer, he had to find work somewhere. Kudos to him for staying in Aus, when he could have earned more overseas.

        • Roar Guru

          July 6th 2018 @ 8:55am
          Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:55am | ! Report

          Settle petal.

          It was a lighthearted dig RE this story:

          “At this stage, we were probably well and truly into the rum and diet cokes, and big Rob Simmons had a crack at me after I wouldn’t pledge loyalty solely to the Reds. Big Simmo is a diehard Queenslander, as so many are when they’re born and bred north of the Tweed.”

          • July 6th 2018 @ 11:46am
            Phil said | July 6th 2018 @ 11:46am | ! Report

            Don’t worry,TWAS,even I could tell you where only having a friendly dig at him.Some people take things way too seriously.
            Rob has been a great buy for the Tahs,though.

            • Roar Guru

              July 6th 2018 @ 12:01pm
              Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:01pm | ! Report


              Wish the Reds had been able to get him and not be stuck with Douglas instead.

              Douglas seemed like a great pick up at the time but then had injury (not his fault) and form struggles. The fact is he was never has gone as he was talked up to be in 2015.

            • July 6th 2018 @ 12:09pm
              jameswm said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

              Phil he was actually having a dig at the Tahs, not me. Fair enough TWAS.

              If I was Beau I’d be giving it back to Simmo too – with a wink…

              And I certainly agree Simmo has been a good buy for the Tahs. I’m guessing Qld would have preferred to keep Simmo, but they were stuck with Douglas having another year to run n his contract. They didn’t realise Rodda nd Tui would come through like they did I guess.

      • Roar Rookie

        July 5th 2018 @ 7:54pm
        Huw Tindall said | July 5th 2018 @ 7:54pm | ! Report

        Jeez the poor bloke was cut by the Reds! Didn’t choose to leave.

      • July 5th 2018 @ 9:36pm
        Hazzmat said | July 5th 2018 @ 9:36pm | ! Report

        Come on TWAS, there have been numerous players over the years playing for the state they weren’t born in.

        I seriously don’t get why people make such a big deal about it.

        I remember years ago, Chris Handy making a big hoo-hah about Queensland born players running out for the Waratahs as the same time that Chris Latham was one of their best players – born in NSW.

        Build a bridge champ.

        • July 6th 2018 @ 12:09am
          Peter Kelly said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:09am | ! Report

          9 of current Reds squad are born in NZ, Favourite Red QC also from NZ
          Rugby is a professional sport, players except QC go where they can get game time.

          • July 6th 2018 @ 6:54am
            Peter said | July 6th 2018 @ 6:54am | ! Report

            QC is honouring his current contract with the QRU and is doing what they told him to do. What exactly is your objection to that? Other, of course, than having a cheap shot.

            • July 6th 2018 @ 5:34pm
              Peter Kelly said | July 6th 2018 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

              I have no problem with QC honoring his contract or any other player, good on him for being the highest paid club player in Brisbane, was not even really having a dig but whatever you think is fine – I would think though that he could possibly be the only player I have heard of that should be playing at Super level that has not done all they could including taking a pay cut to get higher honors.
              As I Kiwi I fully appreciate him being where he is and leaving Foley as the option for 10 in Wallabies, I think he may have gone alright behind current Reds and Wallabies pack and certainly would of helped in last quarter against Irish.

        • Roar Guru

          July 6th 2018 @ 8:56am
          Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:56am | ! Report

          It’s not a big deal. It’s a subtle dig about him grilling Beau Robinson on not pledging to only play for the Reds. Beau having been through the harsh realities at the time was more pragmatic.

      • July 5th 2018 @ 11:24pm
        Rhys Bosley said | July 5th 2018 @ 11:24pm | ! Report

        My take on Robinson’s good natured dig at Simmo’s passion for being a one team man, is that it is probably a large part of why Rob has 84 test caps and counting, while Beau has five minutes off the bench in a losing mid week test against Scotland. Your blood is worth bottling Rob, even if you have had to become a stinking Tah.

        • Roar Guru

          July 6th 2018 @ 8:48am
          Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 8:48am | ! Report

          Not to denigrate Simmo’s achievements at all, as I expect he’ll go on to be a 100 test Wallaby. I think we can all agree the competition at 7 has always been a little stiffer.

          Simply because almost anybody has the right body size for 7. Only a select few do for lock. You can’t teach tall!

          I don’t think Beau was even having a dig at Simmo. More so highlighting the harsh reality of professional sport and how Rob had his ideals when he was younger, but that harsh reality forced him to reconsider them if he didn’t want to just retire in his price.

          Could have gone somewhere other than the Tahs though!

          • July 7th 2018 @ 10:38am
            Rhys Bosley said | July 7th 2018 @ 10:38am | ! Report

            Fair point about competition for seven, but I still think the comparison between the two players in terms of their drive for representative glory in their own state and country as opposed to seeing rugby as a job, could partially explain the different career trajectories of each player.

        • July 6th 2018 @ 12:00pm
          JP said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

          Rob will have 200 tests when his career is finished.

          • Roar Guru

            July 6th 2018 @ 12:02pm
            Train Without A Station said | July 6th 2018 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

            I think that’s a stretch but I’m sure he’ll get at least halfway there.

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