Tomkins talks derby, Barba – and his first game at Langtree Park in five years

Sam Tomkins in action last time he played at Langtree Park
Sam Tomkins in action last time he played at Langtree Park
Share this article

Sam Tomkins is expecting a cauldron atmosphere as he prepares for his first game at Langtree Park in five years.

Wigan’s Super League season is on the line at St Helens tonight.

The fierce rivals are locked on points, both a point behind fourth-placed Wakefield, with four matches to go before the play-offs semi-finals.

Tomkins scored a try and enjoyed a victory in his last match at the ground, in April 2012.

He missed last year’s derby though injury, spent the previous two years in the NRL and, in 2013, was also sidelined - for a game best-remembered for Pat Richards’ monster drop-goal.

The 28-year-old said: “It’s been a while since I played there, but Langtree Park is a brilliant stadium.

“It’s a bit like Warrington’s HJ Stadium, you get the same kind of atmosphere, and this should be no different.

“Wherever they’re played, I love playing in these derbies - from playing Under-18s you get the taste for it and it gets better and bigger in the first-team, they’re always big occasions.”

Tomkins admits the mood at the club was jolted by last Saturday’s Challenge Cup loss to Hull FC.

“Everyone is still frustrated, but we have a chance to pick ourselves up with a good performance,” he said.

“We undersold ourselves at bit, we need to play well. We didn’t feel we played great but we could easily have won the game. So we’ve got to take the positives - but overwhelmingly the feeling is of frustration.”

Tomkins’ opposite number has provided the main focal point of tonight’s high-stakes derby.

Australian livewire Ben Barba joined St Helens in May but has not played after being forced to serve an NRL-imposed ban for taking cocaine.

He is set to make his Super League debut tonight, and Tomkins knows what a talent he can be.

“When he’s on his game he’s one of the best attacking players about,” he said. “He’s quick and deceptively-strong, and you only need to look at his highlights reel to see that.

“He’s a star of the game, and these are the type of players we want in Super League.

“He is a person who sells tickets and if we want Super League to grow we need players like him playing over here.

“We don’t want foreign players who are just taking the spot of an English player who can do as good a job, we want player who can bring something special, and Ben Barba is one of those players.”