Rising Wests Tigers hooker Jake Simpkin. Picture: Wests Tigers
Rising Wests Tigers hooker Jake Simpkin. Picture: Wests Tigers

How Tigers poached young Maroon from Broncos

It only took coach Michael Maguire about an hour to convince teenage Brisbane Broncos sensation Jake Simpkin to make Wests Tigers his new home during a meeting in a Southbank hotel.

Simpkin, who is one of the country's hottest hooking prospects, had spent the past four years in the Broncos' development system as a Wynnum Manly junior.

But with Tigers great and rake Robbie Farah retiring at the end of last season, Maguire needed a long-term replacement and moved fast to steal Simpkin from under Brisbane's nose on a three-year development deal.

 

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Simpkin, 18, revealed to The Daily Telegraph that Maguire organised a meeting with him at Novotel Southbank in May last year when the Tigers were in Brisbane for the Magic Round.

And it didn't take long for the under-16s and under-18s Queensland representative to decide on making a move to Concord.

"I was coming off contract with the Broncs and the Tigers were showing a lot of interest. He (Maguire) was up there (in Brisbane) and I met with him in the hotel they were staying at and it was all good signs," Simpkin said.

"There was a really good opportunity for me here at the Tigers.

"He was a little bit intense but it was obvious quickly he was a good person, half the stuff he asked wasn't even about footy and I could tell he was really passionate and he took interest in you as a person. That was the biggest thing for me … after that I was convinced I wanted to come to the Tigers."

Jake Simpkin in action for the U18 Maroons. Picture: Adam Head
Jake Simpkin in action for the U18 Maroons. Picture: Adam Head

For a club that had come under scrutiny for struggling to secure the services of big-name players after missing out on Latrell Mitchell, the acquisition of Simpkin is a coup.

Melbourne's Harry Grant, who is also a Queenslander and an emerging hooker, could also be on his way to Concord on a swap deal with centre Paul Momirovski.

While at the Storm, Grant has been an understudy to the best hooker to ever play the game in Cameron Smith.

Simpkin is treating the move as a chance to learn from Grant, rather than view his arrival at Concord as an obstacle.

Simpkin (inset) will also come under the tutelage of Farah at the Tigers. The two are yet to start working together but will do so over the course of this season.

Farah isn't the only New South Welshman who will be helping to shape Simpkin's game.

The former St Mary's College Toowoomba student has been studying the game of Blues rake Damien Cook.

Simpkin likens his style of play to that of the crafty South Sydney No. 9.

Simpkin’s game is based around Damien Cook’s. Picture: Matt King/Getty
Simpkin’s game is based around Damien Cook’s. Picture: Matt King/Getty

"I enjoy trying to create opportunities, my running game is probably one of my biggest strengths and I'm still working on the other little things that come with being a hooker," he said.

Simpkin is only eligible to make his NRL debut from round 16 onward because he is on a development contract.

It's a date the youngster already has circled on his calendar.

"One hundred per cent (I want to debut in 2020), that's the dream goal for me to play NRL and I want to be playing well enough for that chance to come," Simpkin said.

"I'm aspiring to become the long-term hooker here, too. It does show a bit of faith that they signed me on a long deal, it's about working hard now and hopefully the rewards will come on the back of that."



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