Newcastle co-captain Tariq Sims has vowed to be “squeaky clean” in his much-anticipated return from suspension in Sunday’s NRL fixture against the Wests Tigers.
Sims will make his season debut this week after serving a five-game ban for a shoulder charge in the final game of last year’s wooden spoon season.
“I have to make sure I am as squeaky clean as I can be and make sure I’m doing a job for the team, because if I’m sitting on the sideline, I’m letting not only the club down, but my teammates,” he said.
It is the second time in as many years the Knights firebrand missed the start of a campaign, having also been forced to sit out the first three matches last season.
The 26-year-old, who coach Nathan Brown appointed alongside veteran Jeremy Smith and star recruit Trent Hodkinson to skipper the side, said he was keen to make amends for his absence.
But he stopped short of shelving his trademark aggression.
“I’m going to bring as much controlled aggression as I can against the Tigers, but obviously I’m going to just try and lead the boys attitude-wise,” he said.
“I don’t like losing. It’s just something that doesn’t really sit well with me. As long as the boys are all keen and ready to rip, I’ll do as much as I physically and possibly can for the boys.”
Sims revealed he had worked hard on his defensive technique, particularly under fatigue, in an attempt to stay out of trouble with the match review committee.
“I have had big conditioning sessions where I would do the most defensive work, because that’s when I’m at my worst fatigue,” he said.
“During fatigue, that’s when we make silly decisions. If I can stay on top of that, I’ll move forward. I’m excited to put those days behind me and focus on the season.”