Sam has real steel says Gregory

LEGEND Andy Gregory reckons Wigan sensation Sam Tomkins will be one of rugby league’s superstars for the next decade.

The Warriors full-back has emerged as one of the early front-runners for the coveted Man of Steel.

And Gregory reckons Warriors have made a master-stroke to tie him down to a long-term deal to fend off interest from the NRL.

“I love watching him play,” Gregory admitted. “I’m a big fan of his.

“And I don’t think it will be long before some of the big NRL clubs look at him, like they did with James Graham.

“I went watching Wigan against Crusaders because when he plays like that, they didn’t stand a chance.

“You don’t know what foot he’s stepping off – I’m not sure Sam knows – and he’s got great speed.

“He’s a unique talent, and he’s a threat every time he gets the ball.

“I love his competitive spirit and I honestly think he will be one of the world’s elite players for the next 10 years.” Gregory – one of the finest half-backs to play the game – also backed Michael Maguire’s decision to switch Tomkins from stand-off to full-back.

The livewire switched roles midway through last season and, despite resistance from some fans who would prefer the 22-year old to still be at No.6, he has taken to the new position like a duck to water.

“I still think later in his career he will make the switch back but for now, the way he takes the ball at the defence, he’s got the skills to rip any side apart,” Gregory added.

“Michael Maguire’s an excellent coach and he’s obviously seen that in him.”

Tomkins, who won the Super League Young Player of the Year in both 2009 and 2010, and is one of the bookmakers’ favourites – with Castleford’s Rangi Chase – to go one better this season and take the Man of Steel title from his Warriors team-mate Pat Richards.

Huddersfield’s Luke O’Donnell, St Helens’ James Roby and Wigan skipper Sean O’Loughlin are among the bookies’ other leading contenders but Tomkins’ club coach reckons the youngster is staking a strong claim.

“Sam, if he keeps going the way he does, has got to be a candidate for the Man of Steel,” Maguire said.

“What he does for us, week in week out, he’s excellent and he’s one who could be identified as a possible contender for it.

“I can see why, the way he performs for the team is showing that the hard work he has put in during training has paid off.”