Sam Tomkins keen to go out with a Grand Final bang for beloved Wigan

first_imgShare on Twitter Victory for Wigan against Warrington at Old Trafford would secure a third Super League title for Tomkins before he embarks on a new challenge with Catalans Dragons – yet there was a time when he could not have foreseen such success.Players of his kind, the ones who emerge every few decades, are tipped for the top from a very young age. His journey, however, could not have been more different – thanks largely to one of the other high‑profile departures from Wigan after the match on Saturday: the head coach, Shaun Wane.Wane was the academy coach before stepping up to first‑team level in 2011, and he oversaw the development of dozens of players, including Tomkins, although it almost worked out so differently. Asked to recount his first dealings with Wane, Tomkins says: “I had to come to terms with the fact I wouldn’t be play rugby for a living. Everyone got offered scholarships on three or four grand a year, but I wasn’t in that group. They let me come in on a pay‑as-you-play basis.“You got £25, which is brilliant if your car insurance is £3,000 a year … But Shaun wouldn’t pick me. I would ask him why I wasn’t playing and he’d blow my legs off with about 25 different reasons. I spat my dummy out when I got home and called him all sorts. It was difficult, but it stood me in good stead.”Tomkins appeared sporadically for Wigan’s academy thereafter, before a potentially career-defining moment for the full‑back. “At the end of the second year of academy Shaun told me I could leave if I wanted. I went on trial at Widnes and Salford and they offered me a bit of money – and there was nothing at Wigan – even the £25 had gone.“I went back amateur and played for Wigan St Patricks for six games. Widnes offered me £3,000 and at the time I’m thinking: ‘I could get a car and insurance for that.’ But my dad, Andrew, stopped me. He asked me if playing for Widnes is what I dreamed of doing, and I knew it wasn’t.“At the time I was an apprentice greenkeeper at a golf course, getting up at 5am.“But an opportunity came up where I could train with the injured lads at Wigan, so I did that for a few weeks and then eventually got a few lucky breaks, stopped cutting grass and got a first‑team contract.”More than 200 games across two spells later, Tomkins is facing up to the reality of Saturday being his final game for the club he worked so hard to join.His leaving for the National Rugby Leaguefour years ago was surprising enough but next year he will line up against Warriors for Catalans, making the Old Trafford game extra special for a self-confessed Wigan fanatic. “I thought I’d come back and probably finish my career at Wigan. But things change so quickly in sport. When I got that contract at 17 I thought I’d never leave.” Warrington Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks. Super League Share on Facebook Read more Rugby league Super League XXIII (2018) Since you’re here… … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. Whether we are up close or further away, the Guardian brings our readers a global perspective on the most critical issues of our lifetimes – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. We believe complex stories need context in order for us to truly understand them. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share on WhatsApp From the moment Sam Tomkins burst on to the rugby league landscape in 2008, there was always a sense of something special about him. The manner in which he made his debut for Wigan, becoming the first ever player to score five tries on his senior bow, instantly saw him regarded as one of the most gifted players of his generation.His career since backs that up. From the code-hopping excursion with the Barbarians in 2011 to the numerous major trophies won with the Warriors, at 29 he remains one of the most recognisable figures in the British game as he prepares for the Grand Final on Saturday.center_img Share on Pinterest Wigan Warriors Share on Messenger Topics Support The Guardian Share via Email Share on LinkedIn interviews Sam Tomkins stars to help Wigan into Grand Final against Warrington It is that emotion of Wane, Tomkins and other names such as John Bateman leaving that is driving Wigan behind the scenes, as they bid for the perfect farewell with the club’s 22nd league title, the fifth in the Super League era. “The bigger story is Shaun leaving,” Tomkins adds. “As players we’re happy he’s taking that burden for us.”When asked how his French is, he says “shite” and laughs. “Leaving hasn’t sunk in yet and probably won’t until I’m in France. Wigan is a family I’ve been part of for a very long time. But I’ve got four years with Catalans: what happens after that, who knows?”Victory is being billed as the perfect curtain call for Tomkins’s illustrious Wigan career – but they may not have seen the last of him yet. Reuse this contentlast_img

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