Simms was one of the finest hookers to ever play for Leeds

Former Leeds President and Rugby League legend Harry Jepson OBE described 1961 Championship winner Barry Simms as one of the finest hookers to ever play for Leeds.

The club learned today of the passing of Simms, who Lewis Jones said would have been man of the match if an award had been given when Leeds lifted their first ever Championship back in 1961 with victory over Warrington at Odsal.

Jepson once wrote the following tribute, “Barry was always tenacious, he tackled well above his weight and stature. Seemingly impervious to pain and potential danger, he never feared putting himself in the heart of the action. Always on hand to bottle up the middle, it was not a surprise to see him hurtling across to make a despairing cover tackle. He was like a scampering sheep dog at times, rounding them up or corralling the opposition into heavy traffic. 

“He was full of life and succeeded Bernard Prior who had a very different, straight up and down, dependable, no frills style. You couldn’t miss Barry on the field, he was a livewire and seemed to have a constant involvement. He was also very loyal, I had wanted him to sign him for Hunslet but his teacher at Middleton, former Loiner Keith McLellan, had quite a hold over him because, even at such an early age, he could see that he had all the attributes and was prepared to work on them. 

“Barry was, first and foremost, a ball winner, you had to be in the fifties or you didn’t get in the side. His former team mates all pointed to Barry’s prowess and technique as being the key to victory that famous day at Odsal. There weren’t statistics in those days but if there had been, I’m sure it would have been rare for him to have come of second best in any hooking duel. 

“Because he was so full of adventure and joie de vivre, he was always looking to make things happen with breaks out of dummy half. In a structured game and a very defined position, his unpredictability was highly entertaining. He kept the crowd on their toes as much as opponents, you could never be sure what he might do next and I’ve always liked that, the ability to improvise and play what you see. 

“When you looked at his body language, Barry never slumped. He could always be seen encouraging and cajoling; I think he had a bit of the showman in him which all the best hookers did. He made sure the side never fell into just routine or went through the motions, he was always chivvying his team mates up and urging them on and they appreciated that. 

“In that 1961 side, Barry was a potent factor and we envisaged a long, fruitful, international laden career on the back of it. In fact, he only made one appearance for his country, against France the following year, injury sadly curtailing his career and forcing him to retire prematurely. He came good at just the right time and deservedly earned his place in Leeds immortality when the grail was finally captured. He could hold his head up with all the best hookers Leeds have had,” said Jepson.