Joel Tomkins exclusive: Contact with Richie Myler's backside 'completely accidental'

Wiganer Joel Tomkins in action for CatalansWiganer Joel Tomkins in action for Catalans
Wiganer Joel Tomkins in action for Catalans
A "mortified" Joel Tomkins has strenuously denied claims he deliberately made contact with Richie Myler's backside.

The Catalans and former Wigan forward was last night handed an eight-week ban after being found guilty by the RFL's operational rules tribunal of "other contrary behaviour" during last Friday night's play-off game with Leeds.

Tomkins insists the contact was "completely unintended" and was stunned when he was charged.

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The 33-year-old also pointed out he has always taken responsibility for his past mistakes - such as when he apologised and resigned from Wigan in wake of an off-field controversy in 2018. But, he says, his contact with Myler was accidental and feels his ban, and public shaming, is an injustice.

In a statement issued to Wigantoday, Tomkins wrote:

I'm mortified I've been found guilty of this charge.

My conscience is completely clear on this - there is absolutely no way I would ever attempt to do what I've been accused of.

I'm not denying my hand ends up on Richie Myler's backside, but it was completely unintended. I've been playing the game for 16 years and it's not something that would cross my mind or any player's mind.

It's a serious allegation and for someone to accuse you of it, they should have to be certain you intended to do it.

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I spoke to Richie afterwards. I said, 'You shouldn't be making accusations like that' - clearly he'd felt something, I do understand that - but he said he knew I wouldn't have done it intentionally and didn't think I'd be cited for it. We had a chat, and I left the ground thinking that would be the end of the issue.

So I was absolutely staggered when I was charged on Monday evening after Leeds had informed the RFL that Richie Myler stood by his onfield allegations.

I hope people don't judge me from one freeze-frame. You could go through most games and see tackles where players' arms and hands end up between opponents legs and, if paused, would look much worse than they actually are.

If you see the footage of this tackle, consider that I'm in an awkward position in a tackle, I'm trying to keep him on the ground, I'm looking down, and in the wrestle my hand ends up on his backside.

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I've made thousands and thousands of tackles over the years, without ever being accused of anything like this; I hope people can believe it was completely accidental.

And even if people want to believe it was intentional, do they think I'd be that stupid to do it so blatantly with 20 cameras pointing at me?

I'm no stranger to controversy, on and off the pitch.

I've always put my hand up and admitted my mistakes. I will admit when I've done wrong - but this is absolutely, 100 per cent not one of those instances.

I'd already been accused, charged and had my reputation tarnished before I faced the tribunal over video-link last night. It felt like I'd already been found guilty and I had to prove I was innocent.

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The RFL couldn't produce video of the incident which had audio, and the video they did have kept stuttering, it wasn't smooth; I just didn't think the process was fair.

I'm not going to appeal because, frankly, after this I've no faith in their system. I feel the damage has been done to my reputation, and I've known other players appeal in the past and have suspensions extended.

But I feel an injustice has been done here and I couldn't let this go without letting people know that what I've been accused of was, hand on heart, not intentional.

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