Brotherly love from 15,000 kms away
ASHTON Sims is not one to get emotional.
The hulking prop keeps his cards pretty close to his chest.
But when the 111kg Toronto Wolfpack enforcer huddles around a laptop in Canada in the early hours of Wednesday morning, to stream younger brother Tariq's State of Origin debut, it might be a different story.
Some 15,000km from Suncorp Stadium, Sims will watch 'Tazza' finally live out his Origin dream for NSW.
"Once I see him standing there, singing the national anthem with a Blues jersey on, I might need to take a couple of deep breaths," Sims told The Sunday Telegraph.
Along with his Toronto teammates, including fellow former NRL stars Josh McCrone and Darcy Lussick, Sims will wake at 5.30am to stream Game III through the Watch NRL app.
While they will be cheering on the Blues, Sims' focus will be firmly on the No. 14 jersey after Tariq was promoted from 18th man by Brad Fittler.
"We'll be up early to stream the game; I wouldn't miss it for the world," Sims said.
Sims admits it will be hard to contain himself knowing the dark times Tariq has endured since making his NRL debut in 2011.
Explosive second rower Tariq broke his left tibia and fibula while playing for the Cowboys that year, then fractured his leg in a similar spot just seven games into his return the following season.
"Sometimes, emotion can get the better of me," Sims said.
"Because I've been there with Tariq through the highs, and I've been by his side during the lowest of the lows, along with his wife Ash and their two beautiful girls.
"In the early days, there were some pretty tough times. There were a lot of tears.
"But (the Cowboys) had a great backroom staff, including guys like (former North Queensland captain) Paul Bowman, who had some pretty bad injures himself and came through the other side to play Origin for Queensland.
"The physios and strength and conditioning staff at the Cowboys gave him a strong sense of belief and Tazza was already pretty strong; he's tougher than burnt sirloin."
While older sister Ruan is the Blues and Jillaroos captain, Sims says it will be special for Tariq to follow in the footsteps of fellow Gerringong natives and former Blues Mick Cronin and Rod Wishart.
"I can't describe what we will be feeling as a family," Sims said.
"Gerringong is a really proud coastal town and we've had two legends in Mick and Rod play for the Blues.
"For Tazza to get his name alongside those two guys is something that, growing up, we could only dream about as kids playing in the backyard."
While Sims' Toronto side are flying in England's second tier - topping the Championship table as the fledgling club chases Super League promotion - Tariq has stood out among a red-hot St George Illawarra outfit sitting second behind NRL leaders South Sydney.
Sims, a former Fiji representative, expects Tariq to return to the Dragons feeling like a new player after a taste of Origin footy.
"Something as special as Origin you would expect to springboard him to another level," Sims said.
"I never had the privilege of playing Origin, but once you pull on any representative jersey it is such a massive honour.
"Rubbing shoulders with the game's best on the biggest stage, going into camp and seeing how those guys prepare for big games, I'm sure Tariq can take lessons away from that.
"I think that'll only mean good things for Tazza; he's always willing to listen and learn. It's one of his best traits."
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