The 18th Man column: ‘I fear Sam will regret the move from a rugby perspective’

Sam Tomkins crossed for a try at Hull KR
Sam Tomkins crossed for a try at Hull KR

Our 18th Man columnists discuss Sam Tomkins’ exit, the future of the Magic Weekend, and Saturday’s reunion with Josh Charnley...

Now we know details of Sam Tomkins’ move to Catalans - what are your thoughts?

Sean Lawless: I am pleased that we now have confirmation that Sam is moving on, finally we can move on! I did think that the statement from the club would be crucial in announcing the move and I think the statement made by Radlinski was superb. It set out a clear overview of what has been going on, put the blame for the move on a suggested unethical approach from the Dragons but the fact is, Sam wants to sample that lifestyle for his family. He has put his family first and I applaud him for that. Time to move on.

Robert Kenyon: It doesn’t bother me, I think we were all gutted when he left to go to NZ Warriors, we were all made up when he came back but he’s been a shadow of his former self. Still a decent player but not a patch on the Sam Tomkins pre-NRL.

Every single player is replaceable and we will move on no matter who leaves. It’s a massive shame really because if he would have stuck with the club his whole career then he would have been a Wigan legend, but now he’s not. The reasons players state in the newspapers are always codswallop. I’d prefer to hear the real reason why he’s gone to be honest.

David Bailey: Despite the facts now being known, there is still a distinct split amongst fans’ opinion on Tomkins move to the Dragons. For me personally, he is someone who has always given 100 per cent when he has pulled on the shirt and he will go down as a great Wigan player but not a legend as he’s left the club twice now.

At the end of the day he’s a young bloke with a short career making the best decision for his family. As a fan it isn’t great when a home grown player chooses a rival over your own team but I know he will give everything for the remainder of the season and it would be brilliant if he could help the Warriors lift some silverware. Wigan will have to replace him on the field and that will be a big ask as he has been one of our better performers this season but I wish him and his family well. He has given us some great moments to remember in Challenge Cup and Grand Finals.

Darren Wrudd: My thoughts have not changed at all now that we know officially what we already felt would happen.

Rugby league is a short career and one which can end at any moment with injuries in both training and game time. Players need to look after their own families and try to plan for a long life outside the game. That means taking financial incentives when you can to help improve your choices and options down the line.

It does hurt when a player chooses another club over ours, but in the cold light of day I think most will understand and support a player who has given his best years to Wigan and helped us win some titles. I just hope he can take us out on another Grand Final win and wish him the very best of luck in playing alongside his old team mate Mickey Mac, let’s hope its in Super League rather than the Championship, now that would be a tough croissant to swallow.

Jon Lyon: I’ve no problem at all with the way Sam has gone about things. He has been upfront and honest with Wigan about what he wants to do. He’ll be seeing out his contract and is entitled to move on if he so wishes. If he thinks three or four years in France are the best thing for his family then good luck to him.

I would have loved for him to stay. It’s a shame that after all his injuries, now we are finally getting to see the best of Sam, he’s leaving us. I fear Sam will regret the move from a rugby perspective, with the Catalans looking a very weak team, but he’s given Wigan entertainment aplenty over the years and he will be desperate to go out with a trophy or two, so let’s enjoy him while we can.

Magic Weekend: leave it as it is, tweak it, move it, or scrap it?

Sean Lawless: Living in the North East, naturally I am a big fan of the Magic Weekend currently being in Newcastle. Although, this does look set to be the last year with rugby union hosting their European cup final at St James Park next year. I enjoy the festival-like atmosphere that is generated and I think moving the show onto another city is important to keep the idea fresh.

Robert Kenyon: Move it to August Bank Holiday and get Matchroom on board to promote it. Make it a 9s comp too. Have it on a three-year cycle in a certain stadium, I’d be looking at Dublin or Glasgow next. Have a Lancashire v Yorkshire or GB v Australia legends match as part of it, 20 minutes each way - 13-a-side unlimited subs. Newcastle has worked well, I went on a course with work and was speaking to a lad from Sunderland who’s been every time. So it’s working, but instead of giving the Geordies a 10 minute teaser of rugby league, there needs to be more of a legacy from the time and money spent up there. I know there’s Newcastle Thunder but they ain’t going to fill St James’ Park. Maybe have a test match at St James Park?

David Bailey: I have never really been an advocate of Magic Weekend and I have only been to one. It’s (as most things to do with Sky are) a great spectacle for the armchair fan, back to back rugby over a summer weekend. The biggest bug bear I have around Magic is how it distorts the league table, yes it’s only one game, but if you look at this weekend, Saints are playing an out of form and under strength Widnes Vikings, whilst the two other form teams of the competition Wigan and Warrington face each other. It’s almost like a free hit for Saints in the quest for the league leaders shield. For me, its just become a jolly boys outing, but has it attracted any new fans from the venues it’s visited? Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester or Newcastle. I don’t believe so. I’d scrap it and look at filling it with maybe a 9s, or a home nations double header, or even play the cup quarter finals or semi finals together.

Darren Wrudd: Scrap it.

I have been to a few over the years and although it puts a few bums on seats and can sometimes be good for the fans, it adds to a schedule in our game which knocks hell out of our most valuable asset – the players.

We play too many games for the good of our players and it seems that the governing body is terrified to reduce the number and have better quality, rather we should flog a few more tickets with another gimmick or two like Magic.

There should be less games all round of better quality with more rested players, simpler playoffs, bigger gates for more exciting sport. It would help our players and the international game would certainly have a better chance of success.

Jon Lyon: I am a big fan of Magic Weekend, and I would definitely stick with the concept, and probably keep it at the same time of year. It’s a tough decision on whether to remain at a very successful site at Newcastle, or move it around and risk the event not going so well. I think if the idea is to promote the sport, as good as Newcastle has been, we should move around more, and away from the heartlands. If market research proved the numbers would be good enough, I would love to see it taken to Dublin.

One thing I don’t agree with is Toronto playing their game at the Magic Weekend. Surely this should be billed as the highlight of the Summer Bash at Blackpool rather than being one of the weaker games at the Super League event.

What are you expecting from Saturday’s game against Josh Charnley and his Warrington team-mates?

Sean Lawless: I expect a really good game on Saturday, two sides that are in great form with exciting individuals like Josh Charnley and Sam Tomkins who can really stand out in the big games. Wigan were way off against Hull KR and really had to grind out a victory, they sorely missed Sean O’Loughlin after he went off the pitch and I think O’Loughlin holds the key to a Wigan victory on Saturday.

Robert Kenyon: Josh was always very respectful towards the opposition during his time with us, it used to bug me sometimes if I’m honest but he can’t help being a nice lad. I can’t see him getting any special treatment, he’s a cracking player and it’s good to see him back in Super League. I’m sure he will get a warm welcome from us Wigan fans as he’s a genuinely nice bloke who always put a shift in. For what he did against Saints and Warrington in 2011 in the Challenge Cup run will always put him in the hearts of us fans.

David Bailey: Warrington have hit some form lately as you can see the players have started to gel under Steve Price. Although they have lost some of the experience that has seen them win Challenge Cups and appear in Grand Finals they still have some excellent players and I thought a few people had jumped the gun when writing them off earlier in the season.

Warrington are always a tough ask for Wigan and this weekend will be no different. Josh Charnley was always going to score tries but he just wasn’t needed at the Warriors and I hope it doesn’t come back to haunt Wigan at Magic Weekend.

Darren Wrudd: Like any game against Wire, I expect fireworks. We all know what Josh Charnley is capable of and it seems that they have finally taught Atkins to pass, putting Josh through more gaps than he has seen in a long while (perhaps Sarginson could take note – sorry Dan). But their new style of play not unlike ours, is paying dividends for them and it will be a battle of defences to come through with the points. I don’t expect high scores but a fast, hard game with just a little added spice.

Jon Lyon: The Magic Weekend clash with Warrington has every chance of being a classic. Both teams are playing well for the most part and both are capable of throwing the ball around, although Warrington probably won’t be up against 10 men this weekend! The battle of two very strong front rows could well decide the outcome, with Hill, Clark and Cooper playing every bit as well as Flower, Leuluai and Clubb. Joe Burgess is a big loss for Wigan but Liam Marshall’s try scoring record against Warrington is magnificent. If George Williams and O’Loughlin recover from minor knocks I’m confident we can win. We will need to start stronger than most matches this season though, and keep a close eye on an in form Stefan Ratchford. I would also, for defensive reasons, be lining up Tom Davies against Josh Charnley, who has looked outstanding since his return from union. I hope Josh gets a good reception from the Wigan fans, but I also hope he’s crying into his beer after the game.