Representative Honours: Australian Schools 2006, Australian Under-19s 2007, Australian Under-20s 2008, Australian Barbarians 2010, Australian Wallabies 2010-
Senior Tours: Italy & France 2010, RWC (New Zealand) 2011, England & Wales 2011, Europe 2012; UK/Europe 2013
Queensland Reds enforcer ROB SIMMONS has become a permanent fixture in the Qantas Wallabies starting line-up following a 2013 campaign where he only missed one Test match through injury.
Following three appearances as a replacement during The British & Irish Lions series, Simmons was quickly elevated into the starting line-up by new coach Ewen McKenzie with the talented 25-year-old a standout performer during the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship and Spring Tour.
While establishing himself as Australia’s first-choice tighthead lock, Simmons also highlighted his versatility when called upon to play blindside flanker during the Qantas Wallabies convincing 50-20 win over Italy in Turin.
He would end Australia’s Test campaign having played in 14 out of a possible 15 Test matches, missing the Qantas Wallabies opening match of the Spring Tour against England through injury.
Raised in Theodore in country Queensland, Simmons made his Test debut off the bench in front of his home Brisbane crowd during the 2010 Tri Nations opener against South Africa, being one of seven Australian players who featured in the commanding 30-13 win over the then reigning Tri Nations champions, who were on debut in the tournament that night.
The Sunnybank club second rower appeared four times as a replacement for Australia during his maiden Tri Nations before being included on the Spring Tour where he gained his first two Test starts during the wins over Italy and France. Simmons’ personal development was added to on that trip when he took on responsibility for calling the Qantas Wallabies lineout against Italy; a duty he has taken up this year with Queensland.
The initial growth Simmons achieved was highlighted by his development as a dominant second rower in Super Rugby three years ago, where the partnership with Horwill proved critical as the Reds stormed to their maiden Super Rugby title. Significantly, Simmons and Horwill twice bettered the All Black duo of Brad Thorn and Sam Whitelock that year as the Reds banked consecutive victories over the Crusaders during round robin play and then in the Super Rugby final.
Simmons had made just three appearances for Queensland, and all from the bench, prior to 2010 when Horwill was rubbed out for the year after just two rounds of Super Rugby due to a knee ligament injury. The captain’s absence pushed Simmons into the spot light, and he didn’t disappoint, providing the same abrasive edge to the Queensland pack that he was later to offer the Wallabies, as the Reds beat three of the four eventual semi-finalists en-route to a fifth-place finish.
That performance built up the belief within the squad, laying a foundation which was added to during the following year’s title run.
Simmons’ home town was hit badly in the state-wide floods Queensland suffered at the start of that title-winning season. The flooding impacted directly on Simmons, who was forced to return to Brisbane early, in order to start pre-season training, due to doubts that he would be able to get out of Theodore because of the spread of water, had he stuck to his original schedule.
He grew up watching Queensland and Australia’s premier second row John Eales, who he cites as his favourite player when he was a child.
Simmons schooled at The Southport School on the Gold Coast, being one of five old boys of that facility to return there in the last two years as Qantas Wallabies when the team has trained at the school. Nathan Sharpe, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Morahan and James Slipper also attended TSS. While at Southport, Simmons made the Australian Schoolboys team of 2006 where his team-mates included fellow future Wallabies Quade Cooper and Rod Davies.