Ashton Sims Reflects on a Career in the Service of Rugby League
Ashton Sims’ second season with Toronto Wolfpack will be the last in his illustrious 17-year professional career and hearing him speak about the upcoming Playoff Series reveals that he is as motivated as ever to achieve team success on the final day of the season.
A little over 12 months ago, Sims triumphantly lifted the League Leaders Shield as a result of finishing the 2018 Season in pole position heading into Playoffs. Just a few weeks later, he was shaking the hands of the Grand Final victors, London Broncos, who had just beaten the Wolfpack by an agonizing two points in the season-ending battle for Super League promotion.
The current Wolfpack crop make no secret of the fact that they are using the Club’s heartbreaking defeat in the final fixture of 2018 as motivation in 2019, but for Sims it feels even more personal. He is a man that is keenly aware of the role he can play in the improvement of not just the players around him but also the communities he inhabits and the game he loves. Sims has always spoken passionately about his life in Rugby League and as the sun sets on a rare and significant career, his words are further weighted by sentimental reflection while always looking ahead.
‘I owe Rugby League everything, it doesn’t owe me anything. What better way to finish of my career than helping get a transatlantic team into the Super League? It would be a nice feather in my cap.’
The Toronto Wolfpack is more than just a Rugby League Club to Sims, he believes it has the potential to set a path for others to follow when it comes to growing the game in areas that don’t have a traditional Rugby following. The impact he can have on the world around him matters to Sims and he does not take the position he is in for granted.
‘I’ve got an expansionist mindset with a community heart. I want to make sure Clubs are sustainable and viable but I also want to showcase the sport that I grew up loving and that I still love to this day. I want to see it grow both domestically and internationally and I think promotion for the Wolfpack would cause other cities to take a look and say, well, we can do this too.
I want to make sure I’m a positive role model for kids growing up and for my teammates. When things are tough both on and off the field they know they can confide in someone like myself. I’ve prided myself on making sure I’m approachable to anyone. If you’ve got a problem with anything that’s going on, you can certainly come up and chat to me.’
Forever the team man, Sims announced his retirement in early August but was always going to see the job through to the end of 2019. With the Wolfpack’s first Playoff fixture creeping ever closer, it would be easy for a retiring player boasting the renown of Sims to inadvertently wrestle the spotlight from others. Quite simply, that is not the Ashton Sims way.
During his time with Toronto, his team-first attitude and upbeat demeanor have enamored him to the ever-increasing crowds on both sides of the Atlantic and ensured he is one of the first written into the team sheet every week. Excluded fixtures missed through injury, Sims has watched just one game in 2019 from the stands, proving that although his playing career is coming to an end, he still has plenty left to give in pursuit of the ultimate goal: Super League promotion.
In the face of several changes made to both the playing list and coaching structure heading into the 2019 Season, Sims has admirably adjusted to the shifting landscape and played a large role in keeping those around him motivated; something that has been a hallmark of his storied career. With another crucial Playoff Series about to begin, Sims knows that they have the right people for the job, both on and off-field.
‘Brian [McDermott, Wolfpack Head Coach] comes with his own pedigree of success and he knows how to win big games and that is certainly rubbing off onto us. We’ve worked really hard, we’re really working well as a unit to achieve our goals and we’ve got a nice record but it doesn’t mean anything come Playoff time, as we saw last year.
This is the toughest time of the year where you play your toughest games and we need to make sure we are up for it both mentally and physically. If promotion does happen, it will be something special.’
While Sims has been in similar positions to this in the past, preparing himself for all-or-nothing postseason clashes, he is aware that the Wolfpack are attempting to create Rugby League history by winning their way into the top-flight Super League and when asked to sum up his feelings as the first Playoffs fixture approaches, his response was simple:
Ashton Sims will be in action when Wolfpack take on Toulouse Olympique at Lamport Stadium, Toronto in the Betfred Championship Playoff Semi-Final this Sunday, September 22 and tickets are available now through the Wolfpack ticketing page at Ticketmaster. Click here to secure yours.