‘We have to lay down a marker’

The players line up ahead of the Super League kick-off
The players line up ahead of the Super League kick-off

JOEL Tomkins says Wigan aim to use their opening game as a chance to show they will be the team to beat this year.

The Warriors get the Super League XX season up and running this Thursday when they travel to Widnes.

And with the game televised live, Tomkins admits the onus will be on the 2013 double winners to lay down a marker.

He said: “We want the two points because, under the new structure, they are going to be more valuable than in the past. But as much as it’s about getting the points, it’s also about laying down a marker and showing you’re the team to beat.

“So it’s a massive game for us – especially building into the Brisbane Broncos game.”

Wigan face the Australian giants two weeks later, sandwiching their first Super League home game of the season against Huddersfield.

Of the three, this Thursday’s match would appear the easier task but Tomkins points to Widnes’ good fortune against the Warriors on their home turf – or, more precisely, their artificial pitch – as evidence of what they are capable of.

“It’s a tough game going to Widnes, especially at their place,” said the England forward.

“I’ve not played on their artificial pitch before, but Saracens have one of those pitches, so it’s nothing new to me and it definitely changes the way you play.

“It’s a different environment and it’s a definite advantage for Widnes because they train on it day in, day out and they know how the pitch runs. But we’ll not be using that as an excuse, we’ll go and play our own game and if we do that, hopefully we’ll get the result.”

Tomkins (right) and halfback Matty Smith represented Wigan at yesterday’s Super League media launch in Manchester.

Coach Shaun Wane missed the event as he took charge of a young side at Workington, watching as they went down 24-6.

James Greenwood was the stand-out performer, scoring Wigan’s solitary try for a side which included players with first team experience such as Sam Powell and Lewis Tierney.

But other coaches, and key players, from other Super League clubs were at the event. And Tomkins added: “There’s a good buzz about the place, everyone is excited about the first round. Seeing the other players from the other teams, everyone is looking big and strong and it whets the appetite to get started.”