Joel happy to front up as a middle man

Shaun Wane reckons Joel Tomkins is well-equipped to handle a spell in the front-row.

Monday, 30th May 2016, 5:00 am
Joel Tomkins

The 29-year-old has admitted he feels his future lies in the middle, rather than as a second-rower or centre.

Wane doesn’t plan on moving him permanently but the option of putting Tomkins at the coal-face of the action does appeal to him.

He said: “I like the fact Joel can play on the edge and in the middle.

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“I don’t like to pigeon-hole a player, I like them being able to play more positions.

“And for players, the more positions they play the more chance they have of getting in the side.

“But I’ve no doubts Joel can do a job for us in the middle.

“He’s big, experienced and his attention to detail is great.”

Although Sean O’Loughlin is a ball-player, most clubs use the loose-forward as an extra prop in the middle of the pitch.

Indeed, when the captain is missing, Wigan have often replaced him with a prop.

Ryan Sutton and Taulima Tautai have started games at loose forward this season, while Tony Clubb and Ben Flower have figured there in the past.

Tomkins took the No.13 role against Castleford last Thursday and, with O’Loughlin sidelined for several weeks with injury, will get a chance to adjust to the new role.

The dual-code England international, who is nursing a knee injury, said: “I enjoyed it in the middle. I had a chat with Shaun and we thought playing in the middle was not as much lateral movement.

“I think moving on that I will play more in the middle and as you get older that is generally what happens now because the game is so quick.”

Other second-rowers to switch to prop at Wigan include Lee Mossop and Gareth Hock.

The Warriors players were due to return to training today to prepare for Friday’s trip to Salford, who have won their last two games.

Centre Anthony Gelling has an “outside chance” of returning, said Wane, who reported no fresh injury concerns.