SAM Tomkins has raised the stakes ahead of England’s mid-season match against the Exiles with a direct attack on Super League’s overseas players.
The Wigan full-back has risked incurring the wrath of the Australians and New Zealanders plying their trade in Super League by accusing them of blocking the career path of young English players.
Tomkins believes the Exiles will go into the clash at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium motivated by a need to justify their “massive” salaries.
“They will want to prove they’re the players that make the competition, the overseas players that come over and sign massive contracts and take money off young English lads who are trying to make a living,” Tomkins told Press Association Sport.
“We want to prove why we English players are the best in the league.”
Tomkins’ comments come amid continued speculation linking him with a move to the NRL, with South Sydney backer Russell Crowe raising the possibility of him joining the Burgess brothers at the Rabbitohs rather than his anticipated destination of the New Zealand Warriors.
Crowe casually dropped in an invitation for talks during an interview Tomkins carried out for Sky Sports at the premiere of the new Superman film “Man of Steel” in Leicester Square.
Tomkins, the reigning Super League Man of Steel, took time out from England preparations to attend the event but, as the audience sat down to watch the blockbuster, he was whisked away to rejoin his team-mates as they moved camp from Loughborough to Manchester.
Having missed Wigan’s last match with an Achilles injury, Tomkins was determined to play for his country in a game he believes is crucial in the build-up to the end-of-season World Cup.
“It’s a massive opportunity any time you get to pull on the England jersey,” said Tomkins, who is England’s record scorer with 15 tries from 16 caps.
“The Exiles concept is one I fully back. It’s an important part of our preparation for the World Cup at the end of the year so I certainly didn’t want to miss out on this.
“I want to perform and personally play the best I can. As a team, there is a pressure on us to perform and I’m sure we will.
“The squad is really strong, there is a buzz around the camp and everyone is looking forward to it.”
England go into the game seeking to even up the scores after losing two of their first three international origin encounters.
Despite his criticism of their presence in Super League, Tomkins knows England’s credentials will once more come under careful scrutiny from Brian McClennan’s Antipodeans and it is something he welcomes.
“We need a tough test,” he said. “We don’t want to just beat someone up in the middle of the year like we’ve done with France and Wales.
“Winning is non negotiable. We’re not just doing this game for other boys to have a week off, we’ve got to win.
“We’ve a lot to prove to ourselves and other people that we’ll be a real force to be reckoned with at the end of the year.
“It’s important that the World Cup is at the back of our minds. We’re taking it one step at a time and beating the Exiles is the first step.
“The World Cup is a massive event and, if we are on our game, there is no reason why can’t do something special in it.”
Meanwhile, Tomkins is still basking in the experience of rubbing shoulders with the stars on the red carpet.
“It was a fantastic opportunity,” said Tomkins. “It was great to meet (Superman) Henry Cavill and interview him and to say hello to Russell Crowe and some of the other stars of the film.
“It’s not something you get to do every day and it was an experience that I’ll never forget.”
England v Exiles kicks-off tonight (Friday) at 8pm and is live on Sky Sports.