JOEL Tomkins has all the makings of a “great” centre, according to Michael Maguire.
The England international finished the World Club Challenge match in the right centre spot.
Maguire has already made a success of switching one Tomkins brother to a new position, with Sam moving seemlessly from stand-off to full-back last year.
And while the Australian coach does not plan to make the second-rower’s switch to the three-quarter line permanent, he admits his capabilities in that position present him with more options. “I think Joel looked pretty good in the centres,” said Maguire.
“With the size he’s got and the athleticism he showed, there’s no reason why he couldn’t be a great centre.”
The Warriors coach experimented with playing Tomkins in the back-line during Wigan’s pre-season friendly at Warrington.
And he was so pleased with his impact in the three-quarter line, he had no hesitation in switching him to that role when Martin Gleeson limped out of Wigan’s last two matches – against Bradford and St George-Illawarra.
The Dragons scored three tries down Wigan’s right flank in the opening half, but that channel tightened up when Tomkins switched positions in the second-half.
He showed strength and pace to pull-off two try-saving tackles, in one instance by dragging Test veteran Matt Cooper into touch and another by tracking back speedy winger Brett Morris and denying him a hat-trick with a desperate ankle-tap.
The 23-year-old’s ability to play centre ensures the intense competition for second-row spots – with the likes of Ryan Hoffman, Harrison Hansen, Chris Tuson, Liam Farrell, Lee Mossop and Tomkins himself in the mix – has a knock-on effect to the three-quarters, where there isn’t the same depth.
Maguire added: “We’ve spent quite some time with Joel to make sure he knows the centre role.
“We want to keep him as a back-rower predominantly, but if the opportunity arises he’s definitely available.
“It creates more pressure for positions internally and it’s good to know we’ve someone there who can do a very good job for us.”