New Wallabies centurion Rob Simmons says he owes his biggest career milestone to his family and gaining a new lease on life.
Simmons came off the bench against Georgia in the second half on Friday night to tick off his century but just two years ago it seemed he would finish his career short of that mark.
The Waratahs lock was without a Super Rugby contract in the middle of 2017 and out of favour at Test level with the emergence of a new generation of second rowers.
At the end of that year, the Waratahs handed him a Super Rugby lifeline and he and wife, Lucy, shifted their lives across the border.
Only months later the Simmons’ became parents to son Billy and amidst all that change, the veteran lock found some new perspective.
“Probably have to pay tribute to my wife and my little son - really made me fall in love with the game again,” he said.
“It's not that I fell out of love with it, it was more - there was a change in my life and I just really started enjoying everything I was doing on and off the field.”
In his two years in Sydney since, Simmons had worked his way back to some of his best form and was one of the Waratahs’ best in a roller coaster Super Rugby season in 2019.
The 30-year-old has already signed a new two-year deal with the Waratahs to keep him in Australian rugby until 2021.
“It was a big change, leaving Queensland, a state I played for a long time and really enjoyed my time there,” he said.
“I suppose the arrival of my first son and everything on and off the field (it was) just fun.
“Never really thought about it much but whatever happened we were having fun, we were really enjoying it.”
Simmons shared the moment with long-time friend James Slipper, who were school mates on the Gold Coast before embarking on professional rugby careers together.
It’s a moment maybe neither of them thought would happen for a host of reasons and Simmons said sharing that post-match moment gave him a rare chance to reflect on their journeys.
“I was just reflecting on it with my good mate James Slipper - we went to school together and he was saying how we used to pack down in the second row together,” he said.
“He came from no. 8 and now he's playing prop for Australia.”
The Wallabies take on England in a Rugby World Cup quarter-final on Saturday October 19 at Oita Stadium, kicking off at 4:15pm local, 6:15pm AEDT, LIVE on Foxtel, Network Ten and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO, Rugby Xplorer and Amazon Alexa.