Tomkins returns to ‘special’ competition

Sam Tomkins celebrates his try in the 2013 Challenge Cup Final
Sam Tomkins celebrates his try in the 2013 Challenge Cup Final

Sam Tomkins will make his return to the competition he loves this evening – with a place at Wembley in his sights.

The full-back hasn’t played in the Challenge Cup since winning the trophy in 2013.

He watched from New Zealand as Wigan were twice knocked out before the semi-final stage, by eventual finalists Castleford and Hull KR.

And he is desperate to ensure their trophy dreams don’t slip away in today’s quarter-final with the Tigers in front of the BBC cameras (kick-off 5.30pm).

Tomkins, who sat out the 54-4 win at Dewsbury last month, said: “I love the Challenge Cup.

“I’ve been lucky enough to win it a couple times, so I know how special it is.

“And every Cup game is a bit more special than a regular match. When I was away, watching the Challenge Cup matches made me a bit jealous not to be involved.

“It’s a unique competition – I tried to explain it to the NRL lads, about having two competitions and they both mean pretty much the same – they are very close in terms of significance.

“I know a lot of lads are hurting from two years with no trophy – and this is a great chance to go a step further.”

But Tomkins says Castleford will be driven by 30 years of hurt - having not won a major trophy since the 1986 Challenge Cup Final.

“We think we’ve got motivation because we’ve not won for two years – they’ve gone a lot longer than us,” he said.

“So we fully understand they’ll be coming fired up, and we’re expecting the very best Castleford have got.”

Tomkins scored a try in a 33-26 win at Castleford a month ago, a game in which he came under heavy pressure from winger Denny Solomona.

“I don’t know what I’d done to him,” smiled the 27-year-old. “He was on to me for the first minute! I’ll be ready for him this time, but I won’t be worrying about it.”

Today’s game marks his brother Joel’s 200th game for Wigan, and Tomkins still has vivid memories of his first back in 2005 at Widnes.

“It was a proud day for the family, everyone was buzzing that he had got his chance,” said the England international. “After making his debut he had to battle to get in the team.

“He went on loan to Widnes, played reserves... he was up against some really good pros and I think that was the making of him.”