In the second part of our exclusive interview with Sam Tomkins, he talks about his legacy, the delay in confirming his move to Catalans, and his Wigan ambitions...
Was it hard breaking the news to Shaun Wane?
Telling him wasn’t a problem. Shaun’s not just my coach, he’s my friend, and while he wasn’t over the moon about it – he wanted me to stay – he understood it’s about what I want to do. When I went to New Zealand (at the end of 2013), I was worried about telling him but he took it well then, and he’s been the same this time. He’s joking about it now, saying he’s firing me off, but it’s all in jest!
Did you consider whether this would impact on your legacy, and how you will be remembered?
No, that was never in my thoughts. I think I’ve done some good things for Wigan – I’ve played international rugby while here, I’ve won two Grand Finals, two Challenge Cups, won the Man of Steel. I think some fans are more bothered about how you’ll be remembered, but as players we want to do what is best for us, and we want to be playing good rugby and challenging yourself and doing what’s best for your career. No-one else can decide what’s best for me.
Hopefully I’ll be remembered in good terms. But this is an entertainment business and people move clubs all the time, it’s no big deal.
What has it been like having to bite your tongue about the issue?
It becomes frustrating. When you live in Wigan, rumours travel quickly, so whether it’s been shopping in Tesco or filling my car up or dropping the kids off at nursery, people have been asking about it. But it’s up to Wigan when they announce things on their own time-scale, I just had to wait for when they decided to announce it.
Have you considered the prospect of what it will be like playing against Wigan next year?
I’ve not. Now you’ve said it... it will be strange. It was weird playing against Micky early on in the year, but once you’re on the field it’s just a game against 13 other blokes.
Long term, have you any coaching aspirations? Is there a possibility of a return down the track?
I’ve never seen myself going into coaching, it’s not something which appeals at the moment. It’s a tough job and I’m not sure I have the patience for it. I have other things away from rugby which I could potentially go into down the track, and being involved in the media stands out for me, if I could – still being involved in the sport but not in a coaching capacity.
This week marks 10 years since your debut for Wigan – is there one stand-out highlight of your time at the club?
I’ve got two, the Grand Finals in 2010 and 2013, for different reasons. In 2010 it was the first the club had won in several years, and then in ‘13 it was my last game in a Wigan shirt before I went to the NRL, which was special, too. But hopefully there are more highlights still to come.
Does your decision – I don’t want to say make you more determined – but does it put this year’s goals under sharper focus?
I don’t think I could try any harder, but it’s in my mind. You’re lucky at a club like Wigan, if you’re young and you’ve got four or five years, you know there’s a very good chance of winning some silverware. Even when I went to New Zealand, I knew there would be an opportunity to come back here. But now I know this will be my last season, it’s my last chance to win something here. Wigan is a special club to me, I love the club and I’ve been a part of it for a long time. Every time I pull that shirt on I give 100 per cent and I hope that never gets questioned. As long as I’m playing for Wigan I’ll do everything I can.