JOEL Tomkins is the target of a shock switch to rugby union.
English giants Saracens – coached by Warriors legend Andy Farrell – are preparing a lucrative offer for the Warriors centre after identifying him as the next league star who could make an impact on the 15-a-side game.
It is unclear whether Tomkins wants to switch codes. But if the academy-product decides to leave, Sarries would almost certainly have to pay a fee – earlier this season Tomkins signed a new five-year deal which runs until the end of 2015.
The interest from union emerged just three weeks after Tomkins and his younger brother Sam joined top management company James Grant in a move which also saw their Wigan-based agent, Andy Clarke, land a consultancy role with the firm.
England RU and ex-Warriors star Chris Ashton – another of Clarke’s clients – also linked-up with James Grant.
Tomkins is a close friend of Ashton – they were class-mates at St John Fisher High and progressed through the Warriors ranks together – and has seen how his profile and income have rocketed since he left Wigan to switch codes.
Rumours that both the Tomkins brothers were on union’s radar have rumbled for weeks. Sam was even named in a fictitious England 2015 World Cup team in the Sunday Times yesterday.
Yet while it’s thought the full-back will be staying put at the Warriors, Saracens’ interest in Joel is firming and they hope they can persuade him to leave the Challenge Cup winners if they can agree a fee.
Wigan would be disappointed to lose the 24-year-old, having invested so much time into making him into one of Super League’s best players.
Tomkins featured in the Dream Team last year and starred for England, and this year switched from the second-row to centre. The former St Pat’s amateur took time to settle into his new role, but finished the season strongly and his stunning long-range try at Wembley in August highlighted his pace and power.
His talents have not gone unnoticed by England coach Steve McNamara, who will name his Four Nations squad today.
If Tomkins leaves before the start of next season, it ends the hope that all three brothers may feature in the same Warriors team.
Hooker Logan starred for the Championship-winning Under-20s this year and gained experience on a dual-registration with Widnes, and is expected to be pushing for a first-team chance next season.