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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Nick Purewal

Rob Simmons interview: Australia veteran rules out Wallabies return to honour London Irish commitment

Rob Simmons has ruled out stepping into the injury breach for a return with Australia this autumn.

The 106-cap Wallaby has pledged to honour his London Irish commitment, insisting that a Test return is “not really on my radar”.

Australia’s second-row stocks have been depleted by Matt Philip’s torn knee ligaments, exacerbating Darcy Swain’s suspension, with Will Skelton also missing the first week of their Autumn Series tour.

Wallabies boss Dave Rennie had been tipped to look at calling up either Irish’s Simmons or Northampton’s Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.

Simmons has not featured for Australia since trading Sydney’s Waratahs for Irish in 2020, and does not anticipate a Test return now.

Asked about a possible Wallabies call, the 33-year-old lock told Standard Sport: “It's not really on my radar. I sort of have left it open, I didn't retire as such.

“But coming to Irish was a commitment to move over here and commit to the club. I've got a family, three young children at home, and that was a big reason for coming over.

“I can be home most days of the week and only be away for one part of the day.

"The chance to play for your country, it's a tough one, if that situation came. But at this stage I'm committed to playing here and performing here.”

Australia will face Scotland, France, Italy, Ireland and Wales in a hectic autumn series, and must do so with a dented second row cordon.

Simmons is determined to focus on the job in hand at Irish however, with Declan Kidney’s men making the short Gallagher Premiership derby trip to Harlequins on Saturday.

“I enjoy what we're trying to achieve at this club, and I think you need to be committed to that,” said Simmons. “And I feel that responsibility even more when players are pulled out into international squads.”

Simmons touched down in London to start his Irish adventure in 2020, only for a six-month Covid lockdown to start two days later.

Twickenham life has happily hit a far greater rhythm now for Simmons, his wife and three young children. His club rugby commitment means spending more time with his family, but also assuming a nurturing role for Irish’s developing stars.

“Part of my responsibility here, I really do believe is to help develop guys who are maybe mastering their craft, and helping them to become leaders,” said Simmons.

“I've had some good experiences over time and can see things and what other teams are trying to do, when other guys are probably more focused on their own craft and I think that mixture's good.

“When my family and I first arrived, we landed and two days later went into full lockdown for six months. That was a difficult transition, but thankfully things have improved of course.

“We’ve got a 13-week old baby now, our third, and our eldest has just started school. So we’ve definitely got our hands full. Travelling around the world would be difficult for us right now!”

West London rivals Quins and Irish can be expected to put on a major show of attacking rugby at The Stoop this weekend. Simmons revealed Quins’ improvisation poses a major threat to opponents.

“Some games you can know the challenges very clearly,” said Simmons.

“But with this team, it’s a different picture all the time, there’s always something but you’re just not sure what’s going to come. So you have to be alert on everything.

“It’s the ad-lib stuff you’ve got to be most mindful of, with individuals who can always produce something new. Teams probably do say the same about us to be fair, that you’ve got to be wary.

“We can hurt any team at any stage too, if the opponent knocks off, we’ve got the ability to strike. It’s exciting.”

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