Tomkins talks about being overlooked for England training squad

Sam Tomkins still hopes to return to the England side despite being overlooked for the elite training squad.
Sam Tomkins made the last of his 23 England appearances in 2014Sam Tomkins made the last of his 23 England appearances in 2014
Sam Tomkins made the last of his 23 England appearances in 2014

The Wigan full-back was the surprise omission when Wayne Bennett named his 21-man panel last week.

He said: “I’ve played for England 20-odd times and I want to do it as many more as I can.

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“It’s always an ambition that sits at the back of my mind, but the only way you get in is being consistent at club level and that’s my main focus. I’d love to represent England again.”

The elite training squad will have regular meetings and training sessions throughout the year to prepare for a mid-season Test with New Zealand, in Denver, USA, as well as the visit of the Kiwis at the end of the year.

Tomkins dropped out of the squad last year but that was put down to injury, having not finished the 2016 campaign and then missing the first few months of last season.

He made the most of his absence from the World Cup by knuckling down for his first full pre-season in nearly a decade.

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And the extra training has paid off, with the 28-year-old making a strong start and catching the eye in Sunday’s 30-18 victory against Wakefield.

“I’d rather be in the squad than not, but it doesn’t bother me,” he said.

“If I was younger it may have bothered me, but being a senior player, I understand my focus has to be on playing as well and if I can get into the international squad on the back of that, then so be it.”

Tomkins, who made his international debut in 2009, earned the last of his 23 caps in 2014.

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“As long as I’m playing, I’ll still be up for international duty,” he added.

“It’s something I’m very proud to have done.”

St Helens’ Jonny Lomax and Warrington’s Stefan Ratchford – both products of Wigan amateur clubs – have been picked ahead of Tomkins in the elite squad.

The three Warriors who travelled to the World Cup at the end of last year – captain Sean O’Loughlin, John Bateman and George Williams – are included.

There is a first call up for Wakefield Trinity winger Tom Johnstone and a return to the squad for Leeds Rhinos second rower Stevie Ward, Warrington Wolves hooker Daryl Clark and St Helens winger Tommy Makinson.