Tomkins saga drawing to a close

Wigan Warriors' Sam Tomkins (centre)

Wigan Warriors' Sam Tomkins (centre)

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NEW Zealand Warriors are today poised to finally confirm the capture of Sam Tomkins.

The long, drawn-out saga will be concluded before Wigan’s play-off semi-final against Leeds on Friday.

Tomkins is thought to have signed a lucrative two-year deal with the Auckland-based outfit, with an option for a third season.

It is understood Wigan will receive a considerable transfer fee – but at less than his market value because of a ‘return ticket’ arrangement.

Lee Mossop has a similar deal in place, giving Wigan first refusal on his services once his Parramatta commitments are over.

That keeps alive fans’ hopes of seeing Tomkins playing in the Cherry and White in the future.

Australian full-back Matty Bowen will arrive as the 24-year-old’s replacement.

Although Shaun Wane has a clutch of exciting youngsters emerging through the club’s academy system, it’s felt none are quite ready to take the No.1 role permanently.

And by bringng 31-year-old Bowen over from North Queensland Cowboys, it’s hoped it will help accelerate the development of the likes of Ryan Hampshire and Lewis Tierney - and smooth the transition following Tomkins’ exit.

Bowen was a firm crowd-pleaser in the NRL and after stringent medical checks, Wigan were left convinced his injured knees could withstand a swansong season in England.

No fan will be surprised by the departure of Tomkins.

The deal was tied-up weeks ago, and Warriors assistant coach Andrew McFadden and full-back Kevin Locke have spoken in the media about the Man of Steel’s arrival in New Zealand.

But the move has never been officially confirmed, and by announcing it this week, it will allow Wigan supporters to show their appreciation in his last match this year at the DW on Friday.

Mossop and Pat Richards Wests Tigers will also make their final home appearance when the Warriors take on Leeds, with a place in the Grand Final up for grabs.

Wigan’s Under-19s will face Leeds in their Grand Final at Headingley this Saturday.

Wigan had to surrender home advantage after being told the DW Stadium and Leigh Sports Village were unavailable.

The Warriors finished at the top of the table at the end of the regular season.