Veteran lock Rob Simmons has earned a Wallabies squad recall and though his immediate club future is still in limbo, he wants to make the most of it.
It’s been a difficult 18 months for Simmons who has gone from first-choice lock at the Rugby World Cup, to a player without a club contract for 2018, after being cut by the Reds.
Simmons and his World Cup partner Kane Douglas, who also earned a Wallabies recall in a 38-man Rugby Championship training camp, have been overtaken in Queensland’s eyes by youngsters Izack Rodda and Lukhan Tui, both also on Michael Cheika’s radar.
It’s a decline even he struggles to explain, but ultimately he believes it comes down to the difficulty of balancing leadership with your own form.
“It’s hard to say - if I knew I’d probably fix it,” he said.
“It’s been tough - I’ve tried to figure that out myself.“Maybe I’ve been focusing on other things, been in other roles within other teams instead of focusing on myself and getting my own things done and trying to help others.
“I don’t think that’s an excuse, it’s just what’s happened and I’ve probably let myself down in that area.
“At the end of the day, to be a leader, (setting) the example is always going to win and that’s probably where I let myself down is not looking after my own backyard first.”
There’s no bitterness from Simmons, despite the way his Reds career finished, rather a desire to prove himself again.
“It’s definitely been a tough year for me. I’m not shying away from that, it has been hard,” he said.
“It’s hard to take a positive but I use it to try and motivate myself or something like that.
“I don’t want to throw my toys out of the cot or anything, say someone’s wrong or right. I just try and use it and be constructive with it and move forward.”“This is an opportunity. That’s what I’ve got to realise now, this is an opportunity to be taken and improve myself.”
The 71-Test lock still feels he has plenty to offer but he’s not getting ahead of himself just yet.
“Mentally I want to get back to getting some consistency and playing some good footy and build from there,” he said.
“It’s hard to say - I’ve still got to improve first to say I can play my best footy.”
Simmons’s Super Rugby future hinges on the resolution of Australia's long-running uncertainty around which of the Force or the Rebels will be cut from the competition.Though the Waratahs have voiced their interest in the Queenslander, NSW coach Daryl Gibson has said a number of times they won’t finalise any deal until after the Super Rugby decision is complete.
It’s been a frustrating process for Simmons but the 28-year-old couldn’t point the finger at anyone for that.
“I’d love to get it done but I can understand from all parties that it isn’t as easy as saying, ‘Let’s get it done’,” he said.
“I know they’re announcing guys, I don't know how they’re doing it but it’s hard to make calls on guys coming in I think, it’s just that they’re at someone else’s mercy a bit, so (I’m) just waiting to see what happens.”
If a deal can’t be done amid all the uncertainty, Simmons has looked into other options but he is desperate to remain in Australia.
The Wallabies are in Newcastle this week, training ahead of the August 19 Bledisloe Cup opener.