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'It is unbelievable': Saracens halfback to realise Super Rugby 'dream'

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Saracens halfback Gareth Simpson will realise his Super Rugby “dream” on Sunday when the Western Force take on the Highlanders in Invercargill.

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The Western Force have made five changes to their starting XV ahead of their trans-Tasman derby with the Highlanders, including a surprise selection at scrum-half.

Former Worcester Warriors halfback Gareth Simpson – who penned a two-year deal with Saracens in February – will start in the No. 9 jersey for the Force.

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The Western Force recruit has been made available on loan this season, but is set to return to parent club Saracens at the conclusion of this year’s campaign.

Simpson was playing for the Barbarians when he started speaking with the Force, but didn’t hear anything else from them for “a couple of weeks.”

While the halfback began to consider other options, a message from Force coach Simon Cron on Christmas Eve changed everything for the 25-year-old.

“It was a weird couple of months with everything that happened at Worcester, and then I got an opportunity to go to Saracens for a couple of weeks on injury cover there,” Simpson told RugbyPass.

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“I had two weeks with the Ba Baas, and it was actually on the Ba Baas tour that I initially started speaking to the Western Force.

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“A couple of weeks later nothing had really come from it, so I was sort of looking at other options and on Christmas Eve I got a message from Conny saying, ‘have you got time to chat this afternoon?’

“I gave him a call and from there it moved on pretty quick and I ended up getting over here mid-Jan. It was a weird one but a good little Christmas present.”

Simpson was born and raised in South Africa, and always dreamed of playing Super Rugby.

The halfback played his junior rugby at the Sharks, before pursuing other opportunities in England with the Warriors and now Saracens.

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Reflecting on the significance of the opportunity with the Force, Simpson admitted that “there probably was a point” where he didn’t believe that playing Super Rugby was in his future.

“Watching Super Rugby, that was always my dream,” he added.

“It is unbelievable.

“There probably was a point where I didn’t think it was something I was going to be able to do.

“Obviously playing in the Premiership is an amazing competition and that was always a dream of mine… then to go on to play for the Barbarians, that was fun as well.

“Now within the space of a few months to get to tick off Super Rugby as well, it’s something that I’m shocked by but also extremely proud of and really looking forward to have that opportunity.”

Simpson was initially signed as injury cover for the Force, but has found himself in the starting line-up for their crunch clash with the winless Highlanders.

“I’m quite a competitive person… whether I came in as seventh choice or whatever I was coming in as, I wasn’t setting my sights on being just that.

“I want to be the best I can be and I want to play rugby.

“I’m always pushing to get game time. I did come as injury cover but I was always planning on getting into the team.”

The Western Force will take on the Highlanders at Rugby Park Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

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