Talking RL: Why would Tomkins want to go? Maybe this is why...

Typical. Wigan finally solve their goal-kicking issues, and another club wants to take him.

Thursday, 5th April 2018, 11:04 am
Updated Thursday, 5th April 2018, 11:06 am
Sam Tomkins has been in great form

Sam Tomkins has reminded us all this year how good he can be.

He’s not the same kind of threat as in his Man of Steel prime, but if he’s lost anything in elusiveness, he has compensated for it with his greater maturity, skills and tactical nous.

“He’s like having another coach,” Shaun Wane said last week, saying he wouldn’t swap him for Ben Barba.

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And now the Wigan coach is set to lose him.

I tend not to get as worked up about players leaving as many others.

Maybe Wigan’s recent history – and the consistent level of success, whichever players are in the team – has made me that way.

But there’s no doubting it would be strange to see Sam playing for another Super League club.

Some have questioned the wisdom of Wigan ‘allowing’ him to leave.

But he’s out of contract later this year, and I’d be surprised – given his form and stature – if the club didn’t try to retain him.

Why would he leave then?

More money? Maybe. And who could blame a player for that, especially when entering the final contract of a short career.

But maybe it’s more than that.

Sure, Catalans do not sit in a better place to win trophies, but they do sit in a beautiful part of the world.

I love Wigan, but if I got the chance to spend a few years living by the Mediterranean with my young family, it would appeal.

Some have suggested Zak Hardaker has been signed as Sam’s replacement.

But Wigan already have another brilliant full-back, Morgan Escare, under contract.

And UK Anti-Doping has not decided, or at least announced, when Hardaker will be available to play – next year or the season after?

Either way, both of Wigan’s first-choice centres – Oliver Gildart and Dan Sarginson – are out of contract during that time-frame, which makes me think Hardaker may be being earmarked for a role in the three-quarters.

Hopefully, the picture will become clearer in the next day or two, and some of the questions this saga has raised will be answered.

Why would Sam leave?

Did Wigan try to keep him?

Even then, I imagine Wigan won’t be able to answer all of the questions.

With Catalans bottom of the table – and remember, they were just 80 minutes away from relegation last season – does this move mean they have been told their place in Super League next year is guaranteed?

The fringe players who played against Hull KR all impressed.

Gabriel Hamlin had one of the best debuts I’ve seen in a long time. Romain Navarrete, Josh Ganson and Josh Woods didn’t look out of place, and Liam Marshall showed his predatory instincts to finish with four tries.

Well done to them all.

I wonder, was their sharpness, their fitness, their good form, in part down to the fact they’ve been playing for the reserves in the build-up?

Wigan, remember, are one of only a few clubs who choose to run a reserves competition.

Last year, it was a bit of a mess.

For a number of reasons, there were only a handful of matches, and so there were instances when some fringe players – Marshall, Joe Bretherton, Liam Forsyth – were called into the side having not played in weeks.

Or, if they had played, it was on dual-registration; for different clubs, with different calls, with different team-mates.

With that in mind, last year it was almost unfair to expect them to be up-to-speed when they got a chance.

But this year, Wigan have had regular reserve games – good, competitive matches, too – and I can’t help think Wigan are feeling the benefits.

I hope other clubs – who choose not to run reserves, to save a bit of cash – take note. And I hope those who choose to invest in youth, and give their fringe players somewhere to play, continue to reap the benefits.

Gareth Walker, the Mirror’s fine rugby league scribe, tried to hook a few people with a prank Tweet on April Fool’s Day.

“Believe NRL are close to confirming details of 2019 Lions tour,” he wrote. “Three test matches only to be played on front lawn of NRL HQ in Sydney.

“NRL players permitted to play only 15 minute spells due to welfare concerns. Plans for ambitious expansion match in Brisbane shelved.”

How depressing that the most unbelievable part was the notion something could be confirmed so far in advance!

There’s been a lot of talk about Super League expanding into exciting new places.

New York, Boston, Perth.

And while on the surface it would be easy to dismiss those ideas as fanciful – anyone who remembers Celtic Crusaders, Paris and Gateshead in the top-flight has a right to be cynical – it was interesting to note one of the fixtures last weekend.

French side Toulouse played Canadian outfit Toronto – in an English league game.

Who’d have imagined that just a few years ago?