Josh Simm admits it was a "dream come true" to make his Saints debut against London on Sunday as the talented 18-year-old followed in his grandfather's footsteps.
Despite the defeat to the Broncos, Simm impressed, playing a full 80 minutes in the centre which earned praise from Head Coach Justin Holbrook post match.
Simm’s grandfather Geoff Pimblett [Heritage number 870] played over 360 games for the Saints, scoring over 1300 points and Simm admits he would have been proud.
“I’ve been dreaming of it since I started rugby, since I was five years old. Obviously I had my grandad at the club so it’s good to share a heritage number with him. It’s a dream for my family as well really, all my family have come down today, come supporting me so it’s been a great day.
“My grandad always said – ‘don’t ever force anything’. Obviously I wanted to make my debut, but Justin was waiting for the right time and to get a full 80 minutes is a dream come true and I know it was a dream of my grandad’s to watch me play before he died, which he never got to do, but I’m sure he was watching.”
Asked what it felt like when he got the call from Justin Holbrook, Simm said: “He gave me a heads up about two weeks ago [that I might be playing] and then we had that little break away and then I came back into training on Wednesday and he said that I’d be starting left centre. I was chuffed, I got straight on the phone, rang all my family and rang my mum. They were all dead chuffed for me.”
Holbrook admitted in his post match press conference that the step up from Academy to first team is a huge jump and Simm agrees.
“It’s a completely different game to the academy. You can last 60 minutes in an academy game without blowing once. Here you can be out two minutes and you’re blowing!
“Obviously I’ve had my time at Leigh, but Leigh are obviously near the top in the championship, so we’ve been on top of a lot of teams, so I have had that pace, but I’ve not had the ‘London being aggressive at us pace’ with the defending all the time.
“So, I did struggle a bit for about 20 minutes or so, but I got that second wind, and I was just buzzing to make my debut.”
Simm was joined by fellow Academy graduates Josh Eaves and Callum Hazzard who both came off the bench in the second half to make debuts and Simm was equally pleased for them.
“I was really pleased for Josh Eaves and Callum Hazzard. Us three have just been waiting for an opportunity and to get it together has been great really because we can all share our experience and we all have that shirt saying ‘debut vs London’. It’s an experience we’ve shared together, and we’ll take throughout our lives.”
Simm is now keen for more first team action and hopes he can kick on ahead of next year.
“I don’t know where I’ll be next week whether it be at the Academy, Leigh or I might get another shot here in the team. I will play it by ear and I’m just grateful for this opportunity.
“If this is my only game then I’m proud to have it. Hopefully I can kick on for next year.”