Sam Tomkins will be an asset to Wigan – even if he’s only at “60 per cent” of his capacity, says Shaun Wane.
The Wigan full-back has been out since breaking his right foot last September.
But he will be thrust straight back into the side for Saturday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final at Warrington.
And while the 28-year-old may need time to regain his best form, Wane has no doubts about what he will bring to the side. “Sam’s an absolute competitor,” said Wane. “The flashy things are not what I go for, I like his competitive nature to win.
“And that’s what makes him different from other full-backs.
“A 60 or 70 per cent Sam Tomkins is good for me. I’m not expecting loads of tries or anything like that.
“But his experience, of when to come in, where to get the ball to at the right time, his game-smarts... he’s a steadying influence on us.”
Tomkins is one of six frontline players returning to the side which lost 50-34 at Leigh.
Forward John Bateman is set to play his first match since the World Club Challenge in February, after recovering from a shoulder problem, and Anthony Gelling, Sam Powell, Sean O’Loughlin (injury) and Liam Farrell (suspension) are also available.
“Training has gone through the roof, having them back,” said Wane.
“Credit to the kids who’ve been in, but the training now is at a different level.
“The good players who have come back are quality - they have credits in the bank, and they’ll make a difference to us. I’ve had to over-play some players – Jack Wells is 19 and he made nearly 50 tackles against Leigh – and it’s a good chance to rest them.”
Though Tomkins and Bateman, in particular, are short of match-fitness, Wane hailed the job done by director of performance Mark Bitcon.
“He is the best in the world and he has them fit and firing,” he said.
Tomkins, who rejoined the club last year after two years with New Zealand Warriors, had hoped to return in April but suffered a setback which required further surgery.