Tim Simona’s former Wests Tigers teammates have expressed concern for the 25-year old, whose career was effectively ended by the NRL last week for gambling violations and charity fraud.
Simona was “deregistered” by the NRL after its integrity unit found he had placed over 50 wagers on opposition players scoring tries and winning matches against his own team.
He was also charged with operating a scam that involved him selling more than 50 signed club jerseys to fans via online auctions, the proceeds of which he kept, rather than passing onto designated charities.
The NRL also found he had lied in evidence he presented in his defense.
Drugs and Gambling
Simona opened up to the Daily Telegraph over the weekend about how he had used cash raised from the bogus charity auctions to fuel cocaine and gambling habits.
But his ex-girlfriend, Jaya Taki, also spoke to the press about how Simona had bullied her into having an abortion, leading to her disgracing him on social media before turning her phone into the NRL as evidence of his illicit betting habits.
But current and ex-Tigers players said this week they were supportive of their former centre and were anxious about the strain he was under.
“Tim is a good friend and still a good friend. I’ve been in contact to make sure he’s OK,” said Robbie Farah, who left the Tigers at the end of last season. “It’s never easy for someone to come out and admit the issues they have in their life, and he’s been a man about it and owned up to his faults.
“As a friend I need to be there to support him and make sure he’s OK. That’s all I wish for him at the moment.”
Chris Lawrence said the revelation that Simona had a drug problem had come as a complete revelation to him. “I’ve been here a long time and never seen anything like that,” he said. “Obviously Timmy’s got mixed up with the wrong crowd and once he’s left here, he’s hanging out with the wrong people.”
Simona himself took to social media on Monday to express his regret.
“I have let a lot of people down and am so sorry for the things that have happened,” he said. “My story has been embarrassing to see on the news, like it’s not me but I know it is. I feel embarrassed, ashamed, angry and upset, but can’t blame anyone but myself which I need to live with.
“Hopefully over time people can forgive me and be supportive as I work on making changes in my life for the better. Thanks to everyone who has already shown their support to me, it has truly meant a lot.”