FORMER Gerringong rugby league player Tariq Sims is enjoying relaxing at home, after experiencing the thrill of playing in front of 71,000 screaming fans during the recent World Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium.
The 23-year-old second-rower was representing Fiji, his mother Jackie's homeland, alongside siblings Ashton and Korbin.
He said the World Cup was a tremendous experience and will help him refocus his goals when he returns to Townsville in January.
After playing juniors with Gerringong, all three brothers joined the Brisbane Broncos within a few weeks of each other.
One of his two sisters, Ruan, is also a football star, having represented Australia in league and union.
"I was always the one in the family to sort of go with the flow, loved surfing and hanging with my mates, and to be quite honest wasn't all that sure I wanted to be a footballer full-time," he said.
"I think the boys wanted me to come with them because they needed someone to clean the loo.
"But once I started playing in Brisbane I got a bit keener and in 2010, my fourth [season] at the club, won the Broncos junior Player of the Year and had an offer from the Cowboys, so Ashton and I decided to move.
"There was a bit of a culture at the Broncos that meant I would probably struggle to crack first grade and saw the move to North Queensland as a massive opportunity."
The 2011 season was a breakout one for the then 20-year-old, helping the Cowboys move away from the bottom of the ladder and again become a force in the NRL competition.
"The club had a big cleanout at the end of 2010 and suddenly I felt 10-foot tall and bulletproof, and we started developing a real winning culture."
But tragedy struck in round 26 (the final round) when he broke his left leg.
"I was gutted - after such a good season to be left laid up on the lounge. But . . . even though I was pretty down there was always a message or phone call from my mates down here [Gerringong] to cheer me up."
After a long recuperation period, he suffered another broken leg in round seven of the following season after representing Country Origin.
"It was the same leg and in the same place," he said.
"I was devastated and I really can't praise the training staff, in particular Glenn Murphy, enough.
"He worked hard with me and I had a good 2013, missing only two games."
He is now focused on what he calls the pinnacle of rugby league as a member of the Blues in Waiting squad.
Meanwhile, he and his partner, Ashleigh, are expecting a baby girl in April.
"I really admire all the guys who play Origin - they always present themselves well and are ones to look up to," he said.
"But hopefully I can use playing for Fiji and making the World Cup semi-finals as a stepping stone to higher honours."