Rob Simmons will become the youngest Queensland forward to reach 100 caps this weekend and he finds himself almost where he began.
The country kid from Theodore, a town that still has an official population of 452, has bested John Eales, James Horwill and even Stan Pilecki, the man after whom Queensland rugby’s top players award is named, to reach the ton at just 27.
Simmons debuted in 2009, alongside a relatively young, but improving Reds side, that struggled to break through for wins, though the history that followed is still influencing the club now.
The 27-year-old said the 2016 incarnation of the Reds felt not entirely dissimilar to the team in which he began.
“Definitely. It’s pretty much the same thing, got that group that aren't quite getting that result at the end of the 80 minutes but the talent’s there and the hunger’s there and we’ve got to play that hunger into results," he said.
It’s no surprise that the Wallabies lock deflected the significance of the milestone back on to the importance of a team effort.
“I’ve had a little bit of time to reflect on it,” he said.
“It’s a pretty proud moment for me personally but it’s all about the team and the team has to put a performance out there to make it any good.”
It’s the 2010 and 2011 seasons that Simmons’s remembers most fondly, as Queensland built to a Super Rugby championship.
“There’s been a lot of highs and lows,” he said.
“Winning the premiership but I debuted in 2009 which wasn’t a great year.
“2010 was the turning moment - (we had) a few back to back wins, ticked a few milestones, did a few things we hadn’t done in a very long time.”
One of the most technically astute second rowers in the competition, Simmons is the Reds’ lineout linchpin and proved similarly important in the Wallabies World Cup campaign last season.
Reds co-coach, and the side’s forwards mentor, Nick Stiles knows better than most the influence of Simmons and said on Thursday it was the lock’s attention to detail that accelerated his milestone.
“It’s a true testament to Simmo on how he prepares,” he said.
“A lot of the guys are professional on field but it’s the difference in what you do away from the training park, your preparation on how you play, the preparation on your body.
“It’s just reward for him to play 100 games, he’s been a fantastic servant for the organisation.
Stiles said Simmons’s experience in the Super Rugby life cycle would be crucial going forward.
“And we’re very lucky to have Simmo around for the next few years to help us become a powerhouse again,” he said.
“He debuted 2009/2010 saw what it took for a group of players, staff, organisation to become Super Rugby.
“He’s an integral part for us moving forward and hopefully he can really enjoy Saturday night because it is a fantastic honour.”
Simmons has ticked off plenty of milestones in his short career and an upset win in Wellington would be the perfect way for him to mark another.