NRL play-off semi-finals, a Challenge Cup semi and defeat in the last four of the World Cup twice: it probably wouldn’t be an over-exaggeration to call Ashton Sims one of the game’s unluckiest players.
He has fallen at the final hurdle so many times it’s easy to lose count – but this weekend, that all changes for the gentle giant who has quickly become one of Warrington’s most popular players.
On Saturday, now into his 30s and potentially the latter years of his career, the Fijian international gets to play in a major final for the very first time – and it’s safe to say he’s excited.
He told TotalRL: “I’m going to be honest, I never lost faith that I’d make a final but every year when I was having to watch them on television rather than getting to play in one, let alone win one, you do start to wonder as the years tick by.
“Things were getting harder and harder but what we’re doing at Warrington this year is exceptional. I’m so proud my first final is with this group and I can’t wait.
“Now the rough and tumble of the league is out of the way we can really focus on this, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t on my mind. We can realise what position we’re in; it was only seven or eight months ago in pre-season this was one of the things we wrote on the board to say we wanted to experience this: it’s a pretty cool feeling.”
I don’t have a huge amount of memories growing up concerning the cup; our satellite TV started getting them around the turn of the century so I remember watching them growing up as I began playing. I couldn’t believe how big the whole occasion and buzz surrounding it was. We’ve got the NRL Grand Final and I assumed the Super League Grand Final would be the equivalent but gee, this is on another level. It’s one of the games I wanted to play when I signed here and it’s one I won’t take for granted.
I think last year makes this year even sweeter. Last year after getting off to a good start against Hull KR we took our foot off the pedal but we knew it wouldn’t happen this year. We had a great victory against Wakefield but now we’ve got the opportunity to make history – so long as we prepare for all this correctly.
I can’t see why it won’t be a classic. Hull have beaten us twice this year but the biggest winning margin has been seven points so it’s going to be a cracker. You’ve got two evenly-matched teams so hopefully we get a packed house there and we can put on a good show.
I’m going to be honest, I never lost faith that I’d make a final but every year when I was having to watch them on television rather than getting to play in one, let alone win one, you do start to wonder as the years tick by. Things were getting harder and harder but what we’re doing at Warrington this year is exceptional. I’m so proud my first final is with this group and I can’t wait.
I don’t really think about lifting the cup yet. I’ve been staring at it but I’m just worried about Monday to Saturday and the process of getting to Wembley. We’re training with purpose, training with intent and we’re raring to go.
I think it’ll help me, most certainly. Talking to a few of the lads who’ve been there and done it they think it really helps. It’s a huge stadium and when it’s empty it’ll be quite surreal but I think it’ll help the lads who’ve never been there adjust to the enormity of the occasion.