In Round 8, 2013, Tim Simona was preparing to play his maiden first-grade match of the season for Wests Tigers, having started the year in the Club’s NYC squad.
His preparations for Round 8, 2014 will be just a little different to before.
Simona produced a breakout year for the joint-venture Club in 2013 — finishing with 12 tries for the year, and 11 tries in the last 13 games of the season — to end the season as the Club’s leading try-scorer and one of the key players to watch in 2014.
And it’s clear now — with his personal success of 2013 coupled with the Club’s strong start to the year — that Simona is confident of continuing that form this season.
“It’s been a while since there’s been a general good feeling at the Club,” Simona said.
“Obviously last year we were struggling for wins and that affected our confidence, but now everyone’s upbeat because we’re winning games.
“The culture around the club is really good so hopefully we can keep it up.”
“The culture around the club is really good so hopefully we can keep it up...”
Having won five of their last six games and pushed their way to equal first on the NRL ladder, Wests Tigers’ start to the season has no doubt come as a shock to many — especially given the confidence that they’ve shown over the opening seven rounds.
Few would have picked Sunday’s home game against the Gold Coast Titans at the start of the year as a key match this year, yet now, it’s suddenly a top-of-the-table blockbuster.
“Both teams [Wests Tigers and the Gold Coast Titans] have been teams that have been written off this year,” said Simona. “The Titans, us and Parramatta were all written off this year and now we’ve proven everyone wrong with that.”
“The Titans are a top eight team. [Aiden] Sezer and [Albert] Kelly are killing it at the moment — they’re certainly in form halves this year.”
“It’ll be a tough job but the boys will be up for it.”
Especially given that Sunday’s game will take place at Leichhardt Oval — a ground with special memories for Simona and a venue that should give the hosts a real advantage when they eventually take the field at 3:00pm AEST.
“Definitely looking forward to [playing at] Leichhardt Oval,” enthused Simona.
“Growing up through the ranks at Balmain, Leichhardt was always a great atmosphere so hopefully we can get a big crowd out there to support us.”