Adrian Lam will bring the 'fun' to Wigan Warriors, says Hull KR's new captain Joel Tomkins
Tomkins, who will lead Hull KR as captain tonight in the city derby with Hull FC, spent a season under Lam’s guidance in the Warriors academy in 2005.
And he remembers fondly the influence the former Queensland captain had on him at a vital stage of his promising career.
“One thing that stuck with me was he made it fun,” said Tomkins. “You wanted to go to training, everyone trained with a smile on their face – I think they’ll really enjoy it.
“It may be a strange season with Lammy coming in. It’s a weird situation with a new coach but only for a year, but I do think he is the perfect man to have during his transition.
“I think there’ll be a different-looking team – but just as successful.”
This will be the first season since 2005 that the Wigan side hasn’t featured at least one Tomkins brother in the first-team squad, with Sam (Catalans) and Logan (Salford) also plying their trade away from their hometown club.
“My dad was saying it’s weird not looking at the Wigan fixtures – they have three other clubs’ fixtures to look at first,” he smiled.
“I think we’re all playing the same time on the opening round so they’ll have some decisions to make, who they watch.”
Tomkins resigned from Wigan after a video of him drunkenly abusing bar staff went viral. He was snapped up by Hull KR and, after impressing coach Tim Sheens, he was handed a new three-year deal – and appointed captain for 2019.
While he never envisaged leaving the Warriors again, having had a successful code switch at the end of 2011, and he regrets the controversy which swirled around him last year, the move to the east coast has given the former England forward a new lease of life.
“The circumstances surrounding why I left, it’s not something I’ll ever be proud of but it’s not going to define me,” he said. “I look back with some regrets.
“But I do feel refreshed, it’s definitely extended my career and hopefully I can have three successful years at Hull KR and captain the club and enjoy my time here.
“I worked really hard in the pre-season to be made captain was the icing on the cake, it’s very humbling.”
Tomkins will lead out the Robins against Hull FC, experiencing another derby after countless Wigan-St Helens games.
And while those matches were among his favourites, he also enjoyed the Warriors’ rivalry with Leeds – which often put him on collision course with Danny McGuire, now his team-mate at KR.
“I've spoken to Danny about this,” he smiled. “For a long time, he played on the left and me on the right, and my job was to give him a rough time and his job was to make me look stupid.
“We had some good battles, when those Wigan-Leeds games were really close. I didn’t know him personally before I moved to Hull KR – we were enemies for a few years!
“But when I joined he was one of the first to come over, shake my hand. We’ve built up a good relationship and we get on really well.
“He’s a top bloke and one of the best we’ve had in the Super League era, he’s up there with Lockers and James Roby in my eyes.”
Tomkins will have to wait until June 9 before facing Wigan for the first time, with his first trip to the DW Stadium as a KR player coming four weeks later.
“It will be a strange one, I spoke to Micky McIlorum about it and he said it was something he just wanted to get out the way, and I’ll probably feel the same,” he added. “But it’s a new experience and something I’m looking forward to.”