Tomkins star rising Down Under


27th May 2014

Sam Tomkins is winning over his critics in the NRL, according to a fellow Englishman who has returned to Yorkshire after a spell alongside him at New Zealand Warriors.

Mason Tonks, who has joined up with Bradford Bulls for the rest of the season, never got to play with Tomkins but trained alongside him and witnessed at close hand the impact the former Wigan Warriors favourite is starting to have in Auckland.

There were plenty of sceptics when Tomkins was recruited by the Warriors seemingly to replace New Zealand's World Cup full-back Kevin Locke and he endured a difficult start as Matthew Elliott's men went down 36-16 to Parramattain his first game.

Elliott eventually paid the price for the Warriors' unimpressive start to the season but Tomkins gradually settled into his new environment and, having played in all 11 rounds of the NRL so far, is starting to produce the form that persuaded the Aucklanders to fork out a world record transfer fee thought to be in the region of £700,000.

"There were mixed reviews at first," Tonks said. "He was top dog in Super League and he went over there with a big risk and a lot of pressure on him.

"He's so well respected in Super League and there was so much emphasis on the Burgess brothers and people like that, he's probably the first back to go over and try and do well but it's paying off.

"He's doing really well and he deserves it. He's now starting to perform.

"He's changed the team. He's got a good presence and in the team he's well respected there."

Tonks and his Leeds Rhinos academy team-mate Jordan Baldwinson were signed by the Warriors two months before it was finally confirmed that Tomkins was also Auckland-bound but they were dwarfed by the cavalcade that accompanied the England full-back's arrival in town on a reputed salary of £400,000.

However, the 25-year-old Tomkins, who moved to Auckland at the end of last year and bought a house in the seaside town of Orakei, remains the down-to-earth northerner Wigan fans will remember and was happy to take the two young Yorkshiremen under his wing.

"I did a promo and a photo-shoot with him," said Tonks, who was 18 when he made the decision to try his luck down under. "He's a bit of a character.

"He's a good lad, I really liked him.

"To be honest he looked after me and Jordan, he was always asking how we were doing, always putting a good word in for us when he got interviewed."

After being unable to force his way into the Warriors' senior team, Tonks will be hoping to make his breakthrough in Super League after signing a short-term deal with Bradford before he heads off back toLeedsfor 2015.