Rugby league may be David Simmons’ consuming passion but he’s quitting for what he considers a higher calling – Jesus.
The Penrith winger will play his 200th and final NRL match in the Panthers’ wooden spoon battle against Newcastle on Sunday, bringing down the curtain on a 13-year career.
For the forseeable future he will devote his time to finishing his degree in theology and spending more time with his wife and three young children.
A devout Christian, Simmons is pondering a future in the Anglican ministry and a career as a pastor.
“Whatever I do, (his faith) is going to be a huge part of it because it encompasses all of life,” Simmons told AAP.
“I’m doing the degree for that purpose just to equip me to live. Potentially I could do some kind of full-time ministry in the church or somewhere else but I haven’t looked too far ahead.”
After discovering his faith in high school, Simmons says his it helped save him from the trappings of the life of a professional rugby league career during his younger days and has supported him over the last 13 years.
“It’s been the rock. If you put all your hope into football, it’ll leave you empty because it just can’t support the hopes of anyone,” he said.
“At the end of the day it’s a game. It’s going to disappoint you.
“If you put all your hope in God, he doesn’t ever disappoint you.”
Simmons says he owes everything he has in life to his religion, including his wife who he met through the church.
“She was the minister’s daughter so had he known who was chasing after his daughter and the kind of guy I was, he probably wouldn’t have liked it too much,” Simmons said.
“I didn’t start dating her until after I became a Christian.
“It was good timing for her and me.”
Simmons debuted with Cronulla in 2003 before moving to the foot of the mountains in 2010 were he enjoyed the best spell of this career – finishing joint top of the NRL try-scoring charts in 2013.