SAM Tomkins is being handed more responsibility by Warriors coach Shaun Wane as the full-back embarks on his second stint at Wigan.
The 26-year-old will form part of Wane’s leadership group next season, and despite being subject to an injury-enforced absence until Easter has already started to make his influence felt.
Playing in the NRL has changed the way he looks at the game – he approaches it in a different mannerShaun Wane
A firm fans’ favourite before leaving the DW Stadium to embark on a two-year stint in the NRL in 2013, Wane believes Tomkins’ time with New Zealand Warriors has improved his game, and wants to tap into his experience.
“Playing in the NRL has changed the way he looks at the game – he approaches it in a different manner,” revealed Wane.
“He’s even more of a competitor and very like Lockers (Sean O’Loughlin) in that respect – he’s very passionate and knows how we play.
“Sam has been in meetings with me and I’ve given him some technical detail to look at.”
And while fans will be itching to see Tomkins back in a Warriors jersey, Wane has insisted the club won’t rush the 2012 Man of Steel back into action.
Warriors confirmed earlier this month they are expecting Tomkins to be available ‘around Easter’, leading to speculation his second debut for Wigan could be against arch-rivals St Helens at Langtree Park on March 25. But Wane will not let the fixture list dictate when his first choice full-back returns to the side.
“It would be great for the fans if he returned for the Saints game but we’re just looking at getting him back to full fitness,” said Wane.
“At the moment he’s looking at one game over Easter, but we’re going to be sensible.
“We need to do what’s best for Sam because we need him fit and we need him fit long-term.”
Meanwhile, Wane’s squad are embarking on what will be a ‘more full on week’ in pre-season training. The players returned to work last week to prepare for the 2016 season, with everyone not involved with England’s Test series win over New Zealand reporting for duty.
And Wane is already encouraged by what he has seen.
“Everyone came in last week and I’m pleased with them,” he said. “They’ve all come back in good nick – they know how our pre-seasons work and they know what to expect so they’ve looked after themselves. We got into the swing of things last week and now we’ll get more full-on.”