To be the best, you need to set the bar high.

That’s why, when a young Steve Simpson joined the Knights in the late 90s, he pegged himself against the fittest forward at the Club.

It was the only way to improve.

As a young backrower determined to show he belonged, Simpson needed to work on his fitness.

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While Robbie O’Davis was the fittest back, workhorse lock Bill Peden set the benchmark for the forwards.

It was this determination to rival Peden which saw Simpson rewarded with a start in the Knights’ first trial ahead of the 1999 season and subsequently led to his NRL debut.

“Our fittest forward in the Club was Billy Peden,” Simpson told the Our Town Our Team podcast.

“I tried my best to stick with him. I didn’t always achieve that but I wasn’t too far of him most of the time.

“He was the main bloke I was trying to chase and I’m glad we had him at the Club because I busted my backside that year. I think trying to keep up with him put me in good stead.”

A Singleton product, Simpson started playing the game at 13.

He was overlooked for the Harold Matthews competition before getting a look-in at the age of 17 for the summer training squad.

But rather than move away from home, he opted to stay in Singleton and play first grade before joining the Knights a year later at the age of 18.

That decision turned out to be a master stroke. When he arrived at the Knights, he was far more mature.

By the time he was handed his NRL debut against Parramatta, the hard-running edge was ready.  

“It was a bit of a blur. I was lucky enough to room with big Chief for my first game,” he said.

“He was a childhood idol. I roomed with him until he retired which was great.

“It was a surreal moment.”

Simpson continued; “He gave you a lot of confidence. He’d done everything in the game. He was a settling influence on me. Kept my confidence levels up which was good.”