No one needs to remind Ryan Simpkins of the impact reaching the NRL finals would have on the Aquis Titans.
The home grown product has worked as hard as anyone to be part of what the Gold Coast community hopes will be the club’s third finals appearance.
While the backrower had to leave the Coast to make his NRL debut with Saturday’s opponent the Panthers, he takes great pride in the contribution he has made and what that might mean to the Titans’ supporters.
“When I came back here I knew the club had gone through a lot of change. I knew it had been a tough period,”Simpkins said.
“Seeing the club do well means a lot to me as a Gold Coaster. Not only from the point of doing well, but from playing a brand of footy we can be proud of.”
Simpkins, a Currumbin junior, made his NRL debut for Penrith four years ago before linking with the Titans last year.
His stint at the Gold Coast has been plagued by injury, with last year a write-off due to a knee injury, while a broken jaw also stifled his development.
But the 26-year-old does not lament his time spent outside the first grade team.
It taught him to keep his head down and cherish his opportunities when they arrived.
“At the start of the year it was pretty tough,” Simpkins said.
“I was grafting away in the Queensland Cup and had been 18th man a few times.
“It became more about the little things I knew I had to do to get back in the team.
“Now I’ve been given a chance the last few weeks it’s something I want to hold on to.”
Simpkins’s return to the top grade coincided with a run of injuries to key players and the backrower found himself helping out at dummy half.
That selflessness has helped him retain a spot on the bench as the side returned to full strength over the past few rounds.
This week, the Titans last home game for the season, the task is simple.
Win, and the club qualifies for the top eight. Lose, and they face a do or die clash with North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville next week.
Having seen from close range what his former Panthers teammates can do, Simpkins is aware how Penrith will attack at Cbus Super Stadium.
“Penrith play a lot of ad lib footy, lots of offloads and ball movement,” he said.
“We’ve built a bit of that into our game as well so if we can fight fire with fire, that’ll be good.”