Wane looking ahead to life after Tomkins
18th January 2013
Wigan Warriors coach Shaun Wane is starting to prepare for life after Sam Tomkins.
The 23-year-old England full-back is widely regarded as Super League’s hottest property and remains contracted to the Warriors for another four years.
But Tomkins is expected at some stage of his career to try his luck in Australia’s NRL, which has already lured his England team-mates Sam Burgess and James Graham, and a switch of codes cannot be ruled out.
Wane spoke for the first time, at Wigan’s pre-season media day at Orrell, of the likelihood of losing the club’s marquee player when he revealed he was leaving Tomkins out of all the trial matches in order to consider other full-back options.
“I need to look at other people,” Wane said. “Sam is not going to be with us all of his career so I need to look at other full-backs as well and other options that we have.”
Wigan lost reserve full-back Matthew Russell to the Australian game in the winter but Wane has given youngsters Jack Murphy and Dominic Manfredi the chance to impress in the pre-season games against Leigh, Hull KR and Salford City Reds and confirmed today that Tomkins will not play against Warrington Wolves in the Ben Westwood testimonial match next Saturday.
Tomkins, who last year became England’s record tryscorer, signed a 12-month contract extension in November 2011, on the day older brother Joel signed for Saracens.
As part of the deal, which was thought to make him Super League’s biggest earner on around £300,000 a year, Tomkins agreed not to talk to rugby union or NRL clubs for the following three years.
“We’ve got him for this year and hopefully the year after,” Wane added.
Tomkins, who played a one-off rugby union game for the Barbarians in the autumn of 2011, insisted he was not looking beyond 2013 with his home-town club.
“I’m waiting to start the season with Wigan, I’m not thinking about anything else right now,” he said.
Tomkins, who missed Wigan’s play-off defeat by Leeds Rhinos last September with a knee injury, says he is now fully fit and has no concerns over going into the opening game of the new season at Salford on February 1 without any match practice.
“I played a lot of game time last year and I picked up an injury towards the end,” he said.
“I got right to play in a couple of the England games but it didn’t go completely so it needed a little rest.
“Now it’s back to full strength. Waney just thinks there’s no point in playing yet. I’m keen to play but I understand the coach’s decision.
“I’ll certainly be playing in the first game of the season if selected.”
Wane added: “I know Sam and how his body works. He’s fit and strong and he’ll soon get into it.
“He trains at match intensity so I’m very comfortable with him going into Salford as his first game.”
Wigan’s only injury doubt ahead of the new season is second rower Chris Tuson, who picked up a knee injury in last night’s 34-16 win over Salford.
The Warriors are resigned to being without England forward Gareth Hock for the first two months as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery.
Wane refused to comment on speculation linking the back-row forward with a season-long loan move to Widnes Vikings.