DEVASTATED Sam Tomkins called on the sport’s authorities to expand the international calendar in wake of England’s World Cup semi-final defeat against New Zealand.
The departing Wigan full-back’s hopes of reaching the decider were crushed by Shaun Johnson’s late try which gave the Kiwis a 20-18 victory on Saturday.
But England went toe to toe against the world champions in an engrossing Test match in front of nearly 70,000 fans at Wembley, and a TV audience peaking at 2.8m.
It was only England’s second fixture against the Kiwis in the past three years, and with a Four Nations pencilled in for next season and a possible Lions tour the year later, Tomkins urged the Rugby League International Federation to deliver more Tests between the two nations.
“We need to look at games like this, England need to be playing against the best in the world,” he said. “We need more Tests against them.
“The Aussies and Kiwis play each other mid-season, we had a year off (last season) and we played Wales and France... it doesn’t help us.”
Tomkins, playing his last match on home soil for a while ahead of a move to the New Zealand Warriors, says the thrilling nature of Saturday’s defeat provided little comfort for the beaten England players.
“It’s absolutely devastating,” he said. “There’s no prouder moment than pulling on an England jersey, so to lose in the dying seconds is gutting.
“But that’s sport, I’ve been in games when we’ve won them like that, as gutted as I am we’ll be stronger for it. The boys played well.
“I’m going to miss a lot of playing here. Wembley is not a bad stadium to play my last game in over here for a bit. All the boys buzz off the crowds we’ve had, to see people have paid hard-earned money to get behind us is humbling, and we take massive inspiration from that. We want thousands of fans cheering us on, we can’t thank them enough.
“It could have gone either way, unfortunately it didn’t go our way.” Tomkins will make a short trip to New Zealand next month to settle in and carry out promotional duties with the Warriors, but return to spend Christmas at home ahead of the start of pre-season training in January.
Warriors captain Sean O’Loughlin added: “Hopefully we’ll see him pull on the Wigan shirt again in the future. Sam’s been a credit to the sport over here.”