Having missed both an NRL and international match due to suspension, Wests Tigers centre Tim Simona is desperate to make amends for his absence when he takes the field against the Cronulla Sharks on Saturday afternoon for their Round 10 clash.
The Club’s leading try-scorer in 2013, Simona was suspended for a dangerous throw in their 22-6 loss against the Gold Coast Titans, and said that the two weeks he spent on the sideline — which included the representative weekend — was two of the longest weeks he’s experienced since making his first-grade debut in 2011.
“Yeah, it’s been a very long two weeks for me,” said Simona.
“Obviously missing representative footy last weekend and watching the boys last week [against the Roosters] from the sideline was really tough.
“I feel like I need to repay them,” he admitted.
The 22-year-old also expressed his disappointment in missing the chance to play for Samoa over the representative break — the country of birth for both his parents — as he served the first week of his two-game suspension.
“That was probably the toughest thing,” he said.
“Representing the country of birth of my Mum and Dad was [going to be] pretty special for me, but I’ve just got to move on now and hopefully put in a good performance this week.”
That disappointment comes after Simona previously missed the chance to play for New Zealand — where he was born — in their 2013 World Cup campaign.
The centre had been named in their preliminary squad, but was forced to withdraw due to off-season surgery on his shoulder.
“It’s just not quite fallen into place yet [with rep footy],” said Simona, “but if I keep working hard for the Wests Tigers, I'm hoping it’ll come soon.
“I’m just take it one week it a time and trying to bounce back on Saturday.”
Not that he’ll need any extra incentive for Saturday’s match against the Sharks, of course, with several former Wests Tigers players and close friends of Simona named in the team.
As fate would have it, there’s a real chance that the centre could even be directly lining up against one of those players in Blake Ayshford.
“Obviously I’ve got some good mates there — Blake Ayshford, Beau Ryan, Bryce Gibbs and Chris Heighington,” said Simona.
“We’re still good mates and keep in touch, and I can’t wait to rip in against them.
“Hopefully we can get the win too,” he added.
And with the Club’s right-hand edge combination of Simona, David Nofoaluma, Braith Anasta and Bodene Thompson posting nine tries in as many matches, the 22-year-old said that he was keen to continue their strong combination they've built so far this year.
“I think I’ve been going all right on that edge,” he said.
“With Braith [Anasta] and [David] Nofoaluma, our right side is putting together some good form together and really improving week by week.
“We’ll look to do exactly that again this weekend.”