Gold Coast Titans forward Ryan Simpkins is not ready to take over his father’s plumbing business just yet after battling his way back from two ACL tears in three seasons.
The 29-year-old started the 2017 Telstra Premiership season off the bench. Then, after he secured the starting lock position he craved, the Titans won three out of four games before disaster struck in the round 10 win over the Storm.
Just when Simpkins’ career appeared reborn he tore the ACL in his right knee, after suffering the same injury in 2015 to his left.
Simpkins, who was born at the end of the same year his father Robert played in the first ever game for the Gold Coast Giants in 1988, is a plumber by trade. During his long recovery it sounds like Robert had a job lined up for Ryan, but his son is not ready just yet to take it on.
“He has his own plumbing business so he was pretty happy when I was going back and giving him a hand,” Ryan Simpkins told NRL.com.
“He is getting to a stage where he is ready for me to take over…but not just yet.
“I didn’t want to finish up halfway through a year injured. Now I just want to play a full year and hopefully have a good one, and if another contract comes up that’s great.
“The last three years have been frustrating and pretty tough, particularly last season when I had a starting spot and the team was starting to find a bit of form.”
Simpkins, who is targeting playing at least one trial before round one, played under Titans coach Garth Brennan at Penrith and credits his former mentor with saving his career.
I knew that if some of the other coaches who were getting tossed up got the Titans job they probably wouldn’t have kept me.Titans forward Ryan Simpkins
“I wasn’t contracted for 2018 until Garth Brennan came here,” Simpkins said.
“In my last year at Penrith I spent most of the year in NSW Cup and he was the coach, so I was excited when he got the job.
“I knew that if some of the other coaches who were getting tossed up got the Titans job they probably wouldn’t have kept me.
“I wasn’t too stressed about it because I am a plumber and have a trade to fall back on. I was doing a fair bit of that in the off-season but I was still keen to play if the coach wanted me.”
Simpkins said Brennan was a creative style of coach who brought out the best in his own game.
“I like the style he coaches with the way he plays his lock in yardage mainly controlling the short sides, so you can ball play a little bit,” he said.
Simpkins is ahead of where he was in rehab after the previous injury and is confident he can successfully emerge from another lengthy recovery.
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“It is not so much the training and the process of it, it is more about how long it does take to get that strength and endurance in your knee back to where it was,” he said.
“It is the right knee this time. Touch wood, the left one has been fine, so hopefully the right one will be the same.
“I am ahead of where I was compared to last time in terms of the amount of running and training I’ve got through so far. Hopefully I can keep progressing and I will be right to go in round one.”