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He’s the 19-year-old dummy-half who has been lighting it up in the Knock-On Effect NSW Cup this season, and now he gets his chance in the top grade after being selected by Coach Michael Maguire to make his NRL debut.

Jake Simpkin will become Wests Tigers Player #242 when he takes to the field at Stadium Australia against the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday evening.

Promoted from the development squad to the Top 30 this season, the young gun hooker is still eligible to play in the Jersey Flegg competition for a couple of seasons, but his early career success has seen him rocket into the NRL team.

A highly rated junior representative hooker, Simpkin has already tasted success in his short career, having helped Wynnum-Manly reach the Grand Final in the Hastings Deering Colts competition in 2019. He has also represented Queensland throughout the junior grades and featured in junior triumphs for the Maroons.

His career was put on hold last season with COVID-19 causing the reserve grade competition to be cancelled — meaning Simpkin played just one game in over 12 months — but that hasn’t stopped him from excelling in season 2021.

He has been the standout player for Western Suburbs Magpies in reserve grade so far this year — scoring six tries in five games — to sit atop the try-scoring chart.

He also leads the competition in linebreaks (seven), dummy-half runs (31), tackles (213) and total touches (460).

Now he gets his shot in the big time for Wests Tigers in Round 6 after being named to start against the Rabbitohs — and he can’t wait to get out there.

“I’ve always dreamt of playing in the NRL [and] I'd take the opportunity with both hands,” the Southern Suburbs junior said earlier in the pre-season.

“I played all the representative sides when I was growing up so I sort of know what it’s like to play in big games but the NRL is a much bigger step.

“As a group we’ve spoken about leaving no stone unturned and I think we can have a special year.”

While focused on making an impact on field, the talented young rake is also applying his trade off it with his time in the books as he studies sports exercise science.

“I’ve been studying for a while now part-time," he said.

"I've been doing it when I'm not at training and it's enjoyable. 

"It's been good to get my mind away from footy [and] I think it's pretty important to have something else to focus on."

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Latrell Mitchell
    Fullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Daine Laurie
  • Winger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Alex Johnston
    Winger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David Nofoaluma
  • Centre for Rabbitohs is number 3 Dane Gagai
    Centre for Wests Tigers is number 3 James Roberts
  • Centre for Rabbitohs is number 4 Campbell Graham
    Centre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Asu Kepaoa
  • Winger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Josh Mansour
    Winger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Tommy Talau
  • Five-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Cody Walker
    Five-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Adam Doueihi
  • Halfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Adam Reynolds
    Halfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke Brooks

Forwards

  • Prop for Rabbitohs is number 8 Thomas Burgess
    Prop for Wests Tigers is number 8 James Tamou
  • Hooker for Rabbitohs is number 9 Damien Cook
    Hooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Jake Simpkin
  • Prop for Rabbitohs is number 10 Tevita Tatola
    Prop for Wests Tigers is number 10 Stefano Utoikamanu
  • 2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 Jacob Host
    2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Joe Ofahengaue
  • 2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 12 Jaydn Su'A
    2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Luciano Leilua
  • Lock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Cameron Murray
    Lock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Alex Twal

Interchange

  • Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 14 Benji Marshall
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Moses Mbye
  • Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 15 Mark Nicholls
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Luke Garner
  • Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 17 Jai Arrow
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Thomas Mikaele
  • Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 19 Liam Knight
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Zane Musgrove

Reserves

  • Reserve for Rabbitohs is number 16 Patrick Mago
    Reserve for Wests Tigers is number 19 Alex Seyfarth

Match Officials

  • Referee: Gerard Sutton
  • Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
  • Touch Judge: Jon Stone
  • Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall

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