Tomkins hopes London game is just the start

Joel Tomkins spent three years living at St Albans
Joel Tomkins spent three years living at St Albans

JOEL Tomkins hopes Wigan’s London adventure paves the way for a bigger assault on the capital.

The dual-code England international reckons moving high-quality games to the Big Smoke is the best way to grow the sport.

He even thinks there is scope for a Magic Weekend in London in the future.

Warriors have made the bold decision to stage tomorrow’s home match with Catalans at Millwall’s The Den.

And Tomkins said: “If we can promote rugby league down there, it’d be great.

“I don’t see why we don’t take the Magic Weekend concept – maybe have a London weekend, at Wembley or Twickenham – it’d be brilliant.

“There’s scope to build the support there, if people in London had access to big games.

“No disrespect to the Broncos or Skolars, but there’s not the same interest than if it was Wigan-Saints or Wigan-Leeds.

“If we can get high quality games down there – when we’ve played England games there, there’s been a good response – and build on that, it’d be great for the game.

“The more support, the better. It’s our capital city, it makes sense to generate interest in our sport.

“People down there are aware of league but it’s thought of as a northern game, and not accessible – which is quite true.”

Tomkins spent three years living in St Albans when he was playing for Saracens RU.

“I love London, we used to go in quite a bit,” the 28-year-old said.

“I know this fixture isn’t good for some of our fans, because they look at it as an away game, but for others it’s exciting and a weekend away.”

The forward says there is no danger of Wigan underestimating their opponents, following a 58-16 mauling in their last meeting.

“It’s not a case of ‘we owe them one’ or anything like that, but we feel in a better place than we were then. We’re more settled, and we can hopefully do a job,” he added.

“We’ve seen how dangerous they are on their day. Their team sheet is as good as any, if not better. They have threats everywhere.

“Sometimes it depends which Catalans turn up, but we’ll prepare for them to be at their best. We really have to be on our mettle.”

As expected, Taulima Tautai, Joe Burgess, Micky McIlorum and Anthony Gelling are back in the 19-man squad, but Liam Farrell is out with an upper-body injury.

Wane had hinted Connor Farrell may get a chance, but he has been left out of the initial squad.

Catalans coach Laurent Frayssinous is missing Vincent Duport, Michael Oldfield, Rémi Casty, Greg Mounis and Fouad Yaha due to injury, while Ben Pomeroy is suspended. Kick-off is 3pm.

Wigan’s 19-man squad: Bateman, Bowen, Burgess, Charnley, Clubb, Crosby, Flower, Gelling, Gildart, Manfredi, McIlorum, Mossop, O’Loughlin, Patrick, Powell, Smith, Tautai, Tomkins, Williams.

Catalans’ 19-man squad: Escaré, Carney, Dureau, Elima, Henderson, Taia, Anderson, Bosc, Lima, Pelissier, Whitehead, Garcia, Bousquet, Maria, Baitieri, Gigot, Margalet, Inu, Sigismeau.