Wane: Joel needs to grapple for his place

Joel Tomkins back at Wigan
Joel Tomkins back at Wigan
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SHAUN Wane is adamant he won’t be rushed into bringing Joel Tomkins back into the Warriors fold as his latest recruit is not adjusted yet for rugby league contact.

As Tomkins nears full recovery from surgery for a bulging disc in his back, Warriors fans are desperate to see one of their favourites back in action for the first time since he left for Saracens rugby union two-and-a-half years ago.

But Wane wants to be absolutely assured the former rugby union international can handle a return to the nature of rugby league’s contact before giving him the nod.

“He’s not wrestled yet,” said Wane.

“He might play against Salford or the week after.”

Tomkins is currently being put through his paces at Warriors training to ensure he acclimatises to Super League action following his time away, and Wane revealed his new second rower or centre was preparing for a stern test from his team-mates in yesterday’s training session.

“He’s not had proper contact for two years, a proper wrestle so we need to get him into the grind of up and down off the floor, whacking people,” Wane said. “He’s not used to that and needs to get back onside with us.

“He did a bit last week but the big one will be today.”

Tomkins is keen to get stuck into his return to rugby league but, as Wane told the Wigan Observer yesterday, he is not going to rush the 2011 Wembley try-scorer back before he is ready.

“There’s no rush with Joel,” Wane added.

“We’re good in the back row anyway with Jack Hughes, John Bateman and Faz (Liam Farrell).

“I want to make sure he’s good and strong, fit and healthy when we play him.

“We’ll make a real good decision on that one.”

The Warriors boss has also been impressed with Tomkins’ influence in training since his return.

Tomkins has had to get used to a slightly different system since Wane took over as head coach from Michael Maguire while he was at Saracens but has slotted back into the fold seamlessly.

“He’s done things in training already which are unbelievable,” Wane explained.

“He showed me what talent he had before he left so it won’t be long.”

Wane also thinks Tomkins’ time away from rugby league hasn’t diluted his ability to read the game he grew up with.

“He’s a smart player, he runs good lines, he loves rugby league so he’ll soon get to grips with it,” he added.

Wane is waiting on a host of stars returning from injury, including Blake Green, Michael McIlorum and Eddy Pettybourne.

First in line to return are Gil Dudson, who completes a two-match ban when Wigan face Bradford on Sunday and Iain Thornley, who is two weeks away from returning from a pectoral injury suffered against St Helens on Good Friday which was thought to have ended his season.

Bradford Bulls, Wigan’s opponents this coming Sunday, have dropped their legal challenge to the points deduction imposed by the Rugby Football League in February, which confirms their relegation from Super League.

The Bulls lost an appeal against the six-point deduction on June 11 but chairman Marc Green initially announced their plan to appeal.