SAM Tomkins has been left “devastated” after being told he won’t play for England in the Test series against New Zealand.
The Wigan-bound full-back was confident of overcoming a knee injury to play in the first game at Hull this Sunday.
But England rugby league said today he had failed to recover in time from the injury, which he suffered in August while at New Zealand Warriors.
The 26-year-old is to be assessed by Wigan’s medical team and a leading knee consultant in order to plan his treatment and recovery.
“It is a great shame that Sam will miss the series against New Zealand,” said coach Steve McNamara.
“We wanted to give him every chance to confirm his fitness but it wasn’t to be.
“Sam is devastated to miss out. He was looking forward to the month ahead with England and making a huge impact.
“His recent rehabilitation programme was designed to give him the best chance of a full recovery and playing for England, but the important thing now is for him to have the injury re-assessed and to get himself ready for full fitness as soon as possible.”
McNamara confirmed Tomkins trained on Tuesday but suffered a reaction afterwards.
Tomkins has not played on British soil in two years. He will not be replaced in the squad, with England going into the tournament with 23 players.
His absence ends the debate about who will fill the No.1 spot for England, with Man of Steel Zak Hardaker also in the mix.
Tomkins’ withdrawal increases the chances of Wigan’s John Bateman playing at left centre in the opening Test - the position Hardaker may have moved to if McNamara had opted for Tomkins.
The three-game series against New Zealand starts at the KC Stadium, Hull this Sunday, November 1 (5pm) moving on to The Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Saturday November 7 (2.30pm) and Wigan’s DW Stadium on Saturday November 14 (1pm).