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."
Fullback for Rabbitohs is number 1 Latrell MitchellFullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Daine Laurie
Winger for Rabbitohs is number 2 Alex JohnstonWinger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David Nofoaluma
Centre for Rabbitohs is number 3 Dane GagaiCentre for Wests Tigers is number 3 James Roberts
Centre for Rabbitohs is number 4 Campbell GrahamCentre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Asu Kepaoa
Winger for Rabbitohs is number 5 Josh MansourWinger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Tommy Talau
Five-Eighth for Rabbitohs is number 6 Cody WalkerFive-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Adam Doueihi
Halfback for Rabbitohs is number 7 Adam ReynoldsHalfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke Brooks
Prop for Rabbitohs is number 8 Thomas BurgessProp for Wests Tigers is number 8 James Tamou
Hooker for Rabbitohs is number 9 Damien CookHooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Jake Simpkin
Prop for Rabbitohs is number 10 Tevita TatolaProp for Wests Tigers is number 10 Stefano Utoikamanu
2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 11 Jacob Host2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Joe Ofahengaue
2nd Row for Rabbitohs is number 12 Jaydn Su'A2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Luciano Leilua
Lock for Rabbitohs is number 13 Cameron MurrayLock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Alex Twal
Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 14 Benji MarshallInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Moses Mbye
Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 15 Mark NichollsInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Luke Garner
Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 17 Jai ArrowInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Thomas Mikaele
Interchange for Rabbitohs is number 19 Liam KnightInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Zane Musgrove
Reserve for Rabbitohs is number 16 Patrick MagoReserve for Wests Tigers is number 19 Alex Seyfarth
- Referee: Gerard Sutton
- Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
- Touch Judge: Jon Stone
- Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall