In what is arguably one of the most successful sporting families in Australia, brothers Tariq and Korbin Sims are set to join forces for the first time in the red and blue on Friday night.
While the duo may have waited years to run out together in the same Club strip, their career kicked off from common ground.
“The earliest memory of us playing footy was us versus Ashton, Ashton on his knees and us running,” Tariq explained about the rules of their childhood matches against their eldest brother.
“Ashton was always the biggest so we always got to pair up against him.
“I think the girls were there, they were probably running water and cutting oranges", he joked about their 33-year-old sister Ruan who has had her own success representing Australia in both rugby union and league codes.
In their junior football days playing for the Gerringong Lions, with Tariq two years Korbin’s senior, any developing combination between the pair was restricted to the backyard.
That was until they joined the Brisbane Broncos’ under 20s squad.
“Tariq was playing fulltime 20s and I played a handful of games up there,” Korbin said.
Korbin was the first to sign with the Brisbane based Club before older brothers Ashton and Tariq followed suit.
The Sims brothers started a new and exciting life in Brisbane with Tariq and Ashton moving from the South Coast into a house together while Korbin lived in the Broncos’ development house with a group of emerging players.
“It was a good experience, moving up there at a young age and it made it a lot easier having my two older brothers up there as well,” Korbin said.
“Our first game of Broncos under 20s was down in Wollongong.
“It was really good for us as a family, it made it a lot easier for my mum and dad and family to come watch us play and I think we got a win that day.”
Ashton, five and seven years older than Tariq and Korbin respectively, was the first to crack the NRL followed by Tariq in 2011 and Korbin, a decade later than his eldest brother, for the Knights in 2013.
“I saw an opportunity for myself to go up north under Neil Henry and his coaching staff, so I went there for four years and Korb came down here and has been here ever since,” Tariq explains.
“I made my debut a couple of years ago now. I have been against Tariq a few years in the NRL and now we get our first chance to play alongside him in the real deal,” Korbin said.
Yet, Friday won’t be the first time the brothers have combined forces on the football field.
Ashton, Tariq and Korbin had their childhood dream come true when they represented Fiji in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.
“Playing rep footy with Fiji together was a really big achievement for us as a family,” Tariq said.
Korbin added, “We had three brothers playing for Fiji. It was always going to be a dream of mine to play alongside Tariq and Ashton at some point in my career and it just so happened that I played both of the for Fiji against Ireland in the 2013 World Cup."
The game was a proud moment for the Sims family watching at home.
“I’m pretty sure they all got together at Nan’s house, that’s our Nan on Mum’s side - she’s the Fijian side,” Tariq said.
“It was on pretty early in the morning so they all had to get up pretty early.
“It was an awesome experience for us to play at such a high level.
“It’s certainly one of my highlights, running out alongside my brothers.
“I don’t think it would have been too good to call. ‘Sims first run and then Sims on the second run and then Sims on the third.
“It would have been pretty boring to call.
“It’s something that we have done and I will cherish that memory forever.”
Flash forward a year and a half and the brothers would be set to experience a similar special moment when Tariq signed with the Newcastle Knights.
Korbin admits he was out of the loop when it came to Tariq entering into early negotiations to join the Club, but says in the previous year, he’d discussed with his older brother how great it would be for him to join the Knights and live in Newcastle.
“I didn’t have much involvement with his decision, he’s a grown man and he makes the right decisions for his career and his family now,” the youngest brother said.
“I knew as soon as he got down here and had a look around the town and a couple of the beaches, that he loves, he’d have a really good time here and he’s still enjoying his time in Newcastle.
While Sims, his partner Ashleigh and their young daughter faced a monumental move to the Hunter from Townsville, for Tariq, the decision was always about providing the best life for his young family.
“I had a six-month-old daughter at the time, I wanted to go somewhere I could see myself staying and watching her grow up as a young kid,” Tariq said.
“I also had to make the right decision football wise and I got to know and saw the structures that (Rick) Stoney has in place and the people that are involved in the Club.
“I like where the Club is heading and what the Club is about and where that comes from.
“I think it’s one of those Club’s that has a rich history that everyone can sort of relate to.
“It’s a blue-collar town and a lot of people look up to the football player.
“It’s one of those one team towns that if the football team is going well then the town is going well.
“It puts a bit of pressure on us, but we know how to handle that.
“I definitely look forward to pulling on the jersey every week because I know how much pride is in that jersey."
It’s clear anticipation is palpable between the brothers as they edge closer to the match against the Cronulla Sharks.
“It’s a big weekend and a great opportunity for us to go further ahead in the competition against a pretty red-hot side coming off a good win,” Tariq said.
“Personally for us, it’s the first time we get to play a game together at Club level."
The Sims brothers aren’t the only people excited about this Friday’s big event.
“It’s at Shark park and not too far from Mum and dad, we have a lot of family in Campbelltown that are coming as well as all our family and friends from Gerringong,” Tariq concluded.