Sam is Maguire’s number one!

SAM Tomkins can’t wait to continue his rugby league education at No.1 this season.

Super League’s Young Player of the Year for the past two seasons, the crowd-pleaser made a successful switch from stand-off to full-back midway through last year.

He played predominantly in his new position for England during the Four Nations, and has been handed the No.1 shirt for 2011 – a clear indication that Michael Maguire sees his future in that role.

While Tomkins’ polished performances thrilled fans last season, he concedes there are still areas of the full-back role he has yet to master.

And he is looking forward to growing into the position when Super League XVI begins in four weeks’ time.

He said: “I’ve definitely still got things to learn.

“In my first game at full-back against Harlequins (last June), I was miles off, and I improved as the season went on.

“I’m still not hitting everything that I should be, but I’m getting closer.

“Full-back is one of those positions where there are things that you learn, about positioning and timing, with time and experience.”

There has been some suggestion that – following a neck injury to Australian stand-off Brett Finch that will force him to miss the start of the season – Tomkins could revert to his old play-maker role at the start of the season, allowing Kiwi Thomas Leuluai to share the hooker duties with Mike McIlorum.

But Warriors’ coaching staff are privately confident that super-fit McIlorum will be able to play more minutes than most Super League hookers, allowing Tomkins to continue in his new position.

The former Wigan St Pat’s amateur – who will not play in Sunday’s friendly at Salford owing to a slight groin strain – has been studying videos of Kangaroos No.1 Billy Slater to try and accelerate his development.

And he admits it helps having one of Wigan’s finest ever full-backs, Kris Radlinski, on the coaching staff if he ever needs advice.

“Rads is pretty happy to let you find your own feet, he’s not a pushy bloke,” the 21-year-old said.

“But it certainly helps having someone like him there if you need him, he’ll always help you out. Rads said he was still learning things about playing full-back after two years in that position.

“If it took him two years, it’ll probably take me 10 years!”