DANIEL Anderson is preparing his Exiles to tackle a player he rates as one of the best in the world – Wigan’s Sam Tomkins.
The Australian coach has showered the Box Office No.1 with praise on the eve of their ‘International Origin’ contest this Saturday.
Tomkins has already been widely tipped to win the Man of Steel this season.
And former Kiwi, St Helens and Parramatta boss Anderson – in charge of the Exiles team made up of Super League’s best foreign stars – rubbished the notion that Tomkins could not be considered world class because he does not ply his trade Down Under.
He said: “You don’t worry about what competition they are in. If Billy Slater came over (to Super League) he would carve up the competition.
“James Graham was one of the best front-rowers in the world (at St Helens), now he’s in the NRL he’s reinforcing the fact.” Asked whether Tomkins had the talent to make his mark Down Under if he left Wigan, Anderson replied: “You bet. The best players in the world are the best players in the world.”
Anderson was yesterday forced to shuffle his squad after being hit with six withdrawals, including Wigan pair George Carmont and Brett Finch, who picked up knocks in Wigan’s 36-14 victory at Catalan last Saturday.
Their Warriors team-mate Epalahame Lauaki has been called-up, joining Thomas Leuluai and Jeff Lima in the Exiles squad. Louis Anderson (Catalan), Luke O’Donnell (Huddersfield), Lopini Paea (Catalan) and Michael Monaghan (Warrington) also pulled out through injury.
Tomkins is joined by Lee Mossop, Sean O’Loughlin, Gareth Hock and Josh Charnley in the England squad.
Castleford would be prepared to part with stand-off Rangi Chase – but would demand a transfer fee of around £250,000, according to sources at the club. Wigan have been linked with the Man of Steel after Finch announced he would be heading back to the NRL at the end of this season.