PLAYERS | Royce Simmons

simmons-royce.jpg

Panther 181

238 matches [1980-1991]

61 points [15 tries, 1 goal, 3 field goals]

Stats: http://mightypanthers.webs.com/players_simmons-royce.htm


From the Central West town of Gooloogong, Simmons trialled with St. George and South Sydney before earning a contract with Penrith. Making his debut in 1980, he would initially play at lock, but would soon take over from incumbent Jim Jones for the hooker role.

In 1983, he was appointed club captain, overseeing the transition of a Panthers team that would slowly emerge as a premiership heavyweight, starting with their maiden finals appearance in 1985, and through to late 1980s.

Simmons was selected for New South Wales as hooker for the 1984 State of Origin series. With the exception of the 1985 series which he missed with injury, he was a constant selection until the 1988 series, where he played the last of 10 matches.

In 1985, he led the Panthers to their first ever finals series.

The following year, he became Penrith’s first ever Australian Test footballer, selected to play New Zealand in Auckland. Simmons was named for the Kangaroo Tour at season’s end, however, his Test career would be short, playing his 10th and final Test in 1987.

In 1990, he became the first Penrith player to make 200 first grade appearances for the Panthers. The 1990 grand final loss would be his last as captain, relieved of the role for the 1991 season. Injury and form saw him dip in and out of the team that season, and had announced that it would be his last. Given a swansong appearance in the 1991 grand final, he made it a memorable one, scoring two tries (the final one being the match winner), as he retired as a premiership winner and with a then club record 238 first grade matches. He famously said after the match that he wished to have a beer with everyone in Penrith.

However, it would not be the last Penrith would see of Simmons, returning towards the end of the 1994 season when he was appointed as caretaker coach after premiership winning coach Phil Gould had quit. He would become head coach for the following seven seasons, before being sacked at the end of the 2001 season.

Royce Simmons was named at hooker in the club’s “Team of Legends” in 2006 and then was named as one of the four original inductees into the Panthers Hall of Fame in 2016.

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