Leeds Rhinos mourn former player Barry Simms

Barry Simms, left, took part in a reunion of the 1961 Championship team in 2011. Also pictured are (left to right) Wilf Rosenberg, Joe Warham (manager), Lewis Jones, Fred Pickup, Derek Hallas, Ken Thornett and Don Robinson. Picture by Tony Johnson.Barry Simms, left, took part in a reunion of the 1961 Championship team in 2011. Also pictured are (left to right) Wilf Rosenberg, Joe Warham (manager), Lewis Jones, Fred Pickup, Derek Hallas, Ken Thornett and Don Robinson. Picture by Tony Johnson.
Barry Simms, left, took part in a reunion of the 1961 Championship team in 2011. Also pictured are (left to right) Wilf Rosenberg, Joe Warham (manager), Lewis Jones, Fred Pickup, Derek Hallas, Ken Thornett and Don Robinson. Picture by Tony Johnson.
Championship winner Derek Hallas has paid tribute to former Leeds teammate Barry Simms following his death, aged 81.

Simms, a hooker who could also play at loose-forward, made 142 appearances for Leeds before injury ended his career at the age of just 23.

“There’s no doubt if he had not been injured he would have been a regular international player,” said Hallas who played alongside Simms in Leeds’ first Championship final win, against Warrington at Odsal, Bradford, in 1961.

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Simms was at hooker that afternoon and his dominance of the scrums set the platform for Leeds’ historic victory.

Hallas said: “He was a super player and a super lad.

“He was full of fun and mischief; we had a lot of fun in the dressing room with him and he was a cracking player, busy around the field.

“I could not fault him, not only was he a nice guy, he was also such a good player. You would want him in any team.”

Simms played for Hunslet Juniors and was wanted by both Hunslet and Halifax, where he had a trial, but opted to join Leeds and made his debut in a shock 16-11 defeat at Blackpool Borough on November 9, 1957.

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Barry Simms.Barry Simms.
Barry Simms.

The following season, aged 19, he was called up to replace the injured Bernard Prior for the Yorkshire Cup final against Wakefield Trinity at Odsal and played a starring role in Leeds’ 24-20 success, the first time they had lifted the trophy for 21 years.

It was Simms’ sixth senior appearance and his first cup tie.

Wakefield’s John Shaw won the scrums 15-13, but Simms set up three tries by heeling the ball near Trinity’s line and also crossed as the Loiners opened an 18-7 half-time lead.

Simms was capped once by Great Britain, against France in 1962 and seemed to be on the verge of an outstanding career when damage to a knee forced him to hang up his boots in January, 1964.

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He had a spell coaching Leeds’ juniors and also worked as a builder. Hallas recalled: “The extension on my house in Burley was built by Barry, he did the bricklaying.

“I think it deserves a blue plaque because Barry did the stonework, [former players] Kevin Dick did the roof and Alan Smith did the central heating.”

Hallas said he has also been informed of the death of another former teammate, George Simpson, who made his debut in August, 1961 and scored three tries and six goals in 48 games for Leeds.

"I played a couple of games with him," Hallas said. "He came out of the 'A' team and played scrum-half at Leeds, before he moved to Australia."

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