SAM Tomkins can’t wait to continue his rugby league education at No.1 this season.
Super League’s Young Player of the Year for the past two seasons, the crowd-pleaser made a successful switch from stand-off to full-back midway through last year.
He played predominantly in his new position for England during the Four Nations, and has been handed the No.1 shirt for 2011 – a clear indication that Michael Maguire sees his future in that role.
While Tomkins’ polished performances thrilled fans last season, he concedes there are still areas of the full-back role he has yet to master.
And he is looking forward to growing into the position when Super League XVI begins in four weeks’ time.
He said: “I’ve definitely still got things to learn.
“In my first game at full-back against Harlequins (last June), I was miles off, and I improved as the season went on.
“I’m still not hitting everything that I should be, but I’m getting closer.
“Full-back is one of those positions where there are things that you learn, about positioning and timing, with time and experience.”
There has been some suggestion that – following a neck injury to Australian stand-off Brett Finch that will force him to miss the start of the season – Tomkins could revert to his old play-maker role at the start of the season, allowing Kiwi Thomas Leuluai to share the hooker duties with Mike McIlorum.
But Warriors’ coaching staff are privately confident that super-fit McIlorum will be able to play more minutes than most Super League hookers, allowing Tomkins to continue in his new position.
The former Wigan St Pat’s amateur – who will not play in Sunday’s friendly at Salford owing to a slight groin strain – has been studying videos of Kangaroos No.1 Billy Slater to try and accelerate his development.
And he admits it helps having one of Wigan’s finest ever full-backs, Kris Radlinski, on the coaching staff if he ever needs advice.
“Rads is pretty happy to let you find your own feet, he’s not a pushy bloke,” the 21-year-old said.
“But it certainly helps having someone like him there if you need him, he’ll always help you out. Rads said he was still learning things about playing full-back after two years in that position.
“If it took him two years, it’ll probably take me 10 years!”