Sam Tomkins

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Sam Tomkins
Sam Tomkins 2010 2.jpg
Tomkins playing for Wigan in 2010
Personal information
Full name Samuel Levi Tomkins[1]
Born (1989-03-23) 23 March 1989 (age 25)
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England
Height 180 cm (5 ft 11 in)[2]
Weight 83 kg (13 st 1 lb)[2]
Playing information
Rugby league
Position Fullback, Five-eighth, Halfback
Club
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2008–13 Wigan Warriors 151 144 28 1 474
2014– NZ Warriors 24 13 0 0 52
Total 175 157 28 1 526
Representative
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2009– England 28 22 0 0 88
Rugby union
Position Wing
Representative
Years Team Pld T G FG P
2011 Barbarians F.C. 1 1 0 0 5
As of 8 November 2014
Source: NZ Warriors Player Profiles

Samuel Levi Tomkins (born 23 March 1989) is an English professional rugby league footballer for the New Zealand Warriors of the National Rugby League. An England national representative fullback, he previously played in Super League for England club Wigan Warriors, with whom he won two Super League Grand Finals in 2010 and 2013 as well as two Challenge Cup finals in 2011 and 2013.

Tomkins was born in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. After his family moved north in the early 1990s, he started playing for Chorley Panthers amateur club when he was aged seven. To develop his career further, Tomkins' family moved to Wigan where he played for Wigan St. Patrick's, before receiving a scholarship from Wigan with whom he signed a full-time contract at the end of 2007. In 2008 he played for Wigan in the Challenge Cup, becoming the first rugby league player to score five tries in a first-grade debut. He is the younger brother of Joel Tomkins, who played for Wigan from 2005 to 2011 before switching to rugby union.

2009 would prove to be Tomkins' breakthrough year. He made his league debut against Harlequins RL and made 27 appearances during the season, scoring 15 tries. He established himself as Wigan's first choice stand-off, and was named in the Super League Dream Team, as well as receiving the club's own Player of the Year and the Super League's Young Player of the Year awards. In 2010, Tomkins switched from stand-off to fullback under Wigan's new head coach Michael Maguire, also appearing occasionally at scrum-half. That season, Wigan won its first league title since 1998; it was Tomkins' first honour as a player. Appearing in every game of Wigan's 2010 season, he retained his place in the Dream Team, and also received the Rugby League International Federation's Rookie of the Year award.

Tomkins scored a hat-trick against Wales during his international debut, and appeared a further three times for England in 2009 at the Four Nations, in which he played in the tournament's final. In a Test match mid-way through the 2010 season, Tomkins equalled the record for most tries scored in a single match by an England player when he scored four against France. In the Four Nations later that year, Tomkins appeared in all three of England's matches as the team failed to progress past the first round. He also participated for England in the inaugural International Origin against the Exiles in 2011.

Early life[edit]

Tomkins was born on 23 March 1989 in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England.[3] Following the birth of Sam's older brother Joel in Warrington, the family had moved to Milton Keynes due to his father's work as a police officer.[4] In the early 1990s, his family moved to Chorley, where his younger brother Logan was born.[4] Tomkins' first experience of rugby league came when he was seven years old, after his father introduced both Sam and Joel to the Chorley Panthers amateur club.[5]

By the time Tomkins was nine, both he and his older brother had moved from the Panthers and were becoming more involved with the amateur Wigan St. Patrick's club, a feeder team for the professional Wigan club.[5][6] To aid their careers, the family decided to move from Chorley to Wigan, and Tomkins remained playing at the club until his mid-teens.[5] Reflecting on Tomkins' time at Wigan St. Patrick's, Bill Atherton, the club's chairman, remarked that "you could see there was something special when Sam came up through the club. There has always been something different about him."[6] When he was aged twelve, he obtained a place on the Wigan Warriors scholarship scheme, and when he turned sixteen, Tomkins was offered a part-time contract for the club's academy.[5] By 2007, Tomkins was featuring regularly for the Wigan academy sides. That year, he featured in an under-18s win for the England Academy against France Cadets; his early try helped establish an early England lead before he completed his brace in the second half after a sin-binning for a high tackle.[7] At the end of the year, Wigan rewarded Tomkins with a full-time contract, giving him the opportunity to train alongside players in the club's first team.[8]

Professional playing career[edit]

Wigan Warriors[edit]

Debut season[edit]

When Wigan agreed to release five-eighth Trent Barrett from his contract, the club looked to find a long-term replacement. Tomkins was offered a one-year extension to his own contract, which would keep him at the club until the end of the 2010 season with another year optional.[9][10] After signing the extension, Wigan head coach Brian Noble commented that Tomkins, along with Wigan teammate Mark Flanagan, "both have the ability to make an impact in Super League in years to come."[11]

Trent is one of the world's best players at the moment. Just to play with him is an honour. You pick up so much off him and he's just a great player to play with. Joel was so supportive when I found out I was playing and really tipped me up on what to do – don't try and do too much, nothing silly. He's been a big help.

Sam Tomkins, 14 May 2008, commenting on the influence of Trent Barrett and his brother Joel on his debut performance against Whitehaven.[12]

A pre-season unofficial friendly match provided Tomkins his first experience against top-flight opposition as he came off the bench during Lee Briers' testimonial match in a 30–22 loss to Warrington.[13] Noble followed this up by providing Tomkins, aged 19, with his first team debut on 12 May against Whitehaven in a fifth round Challenge Cup match.[14] Tomkins became the first player in rugby league history to score five tries on his first-grade debut, scoring his first three to complete a hat-trick within the first twelve minutes, as Wigan scored eighteen tries in total on the way to a 106–8 victory.[15]

Despite this, Thomas Leuluai replaced Tomkins for the team's next match against Warrington, meaning Tomkins would have to wait for his Super League debut.[16] He played out the rest of the 2008 season in the reserves, some of his highlights including a hat-trick against Castleford and another five-try performance against Harlequins RL.[17][18] After scoring four tries against Hull's reserves, Tomkins was tipped to make at least ten Super League appearances in 2009 season by Shaun Wane, Wigan's reserve coach.[19] He also received an endorsement from Ian Lenagan, the club's chairman, when he said, "I think Sam is going to be a world-class half-back and we want to give him his chance."[20] Tomkins was named Reserve Team Player of the Year at the Wigan inaugural awards evening.[21]

In 2009 Tomkins was awarded the Albert Goldthorpe Rookie of the Year Medal.[22]

2009 season[edit]

The club played Warrington over the 2008 Christmas holidays, as a pre-season friendly to Wigan's 2009 season. Tomkins claimed a hat-trick as the team swept aside a young and inexperienced Warrington side 44–4.[23] Tomkins also featured in the club's two other fixtures during the pre-season, firstly against Huddersfield and then against Leigh.[24][25] For 2009, Tomkins was given the number 25 jersey.[26]

What they bring is an enthusiasm and energy to the squad, and some older players have fed off that. You look at Sam and he's a big threat. It is like, 'Gosh. Look at this kid, he just plays'. That raw energy spills over to other people because the youngsters are happy to be there. There aren't many veterans in the squad, it is a pretty young team. But they've sparked other people up and we've seen that against Harlequins and Bradford.

Brian Noble on Tomkins and Shaun Ainscough, 10 March 2009.[27]

Wigan faced their worst start to a season since 1966 after losing their opening three matches.[28] Tomkins was brought into the squad and came off the bench against Harlequins for his league debut during their fourth match of the season. Tomkins made a break early in the second half which allowed George Carmont to claim the equalising try.[29] Tomkins took Tim Smith's starting place in the team for their next match against Bradford.[30] After scoring twice for a brace against Salford, he earned his first league tries.[31] He also scored in a fourth round cup match against Barrow.[32] For the round 10 fixture against Celtic Crusaders, Tomkins was relegated to the bench as Smith made his first start in eight games. However Tomkins came on as a substitute to score his second brace of the season.[33]

He also scored the final try of the match in Wigan's fifth round cup win over Wakefield Trinity, and although he was found guilty on a charge of kicking out in the tackle against another player, he escaped a match ban.[34][35] With Smith expressing his desire to return home to Australia following the 2009 season, Tomkins was tipped by Lenagan as Wigan's long-term replacement at stand-off.[36] Tomkins was named in a train-on squad for England's friendly test match against France, although he did not play.[37] He was dropped in round 15 for Wigan's match against Salford, but returned off the bench and scored against Hull Kingston Rovers in round 18.[38][39] Tomkins played every game for Wigan thereafter, except for the final regular round fixture of the season against Huddersfield, until the team were knocked out of the Super League play-offs by St. Helens.[40] Included in this run of appearances was a hat-trick and Tomkins' first drop goal against Castleford in round 25.

Sam Tomkins playing against St Helens in 2009

In the same year he made his league debut, Tomkins was named in the Super League Dream Team at stand-off, and was also voted by journalists in the Rugby League Writers' Association as Super League Young Player of the Year.[41][42] At the Wigan's own awards evening, he was named Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year.[43] Tomkins would go on to play for England during the 2009 Four Nations. He ended the domestic season with twenty-seven first-grade appearances, twenty-three of which in the league, as well as fifteen tries.[2][44][45] In doing this, Tomkins had more than doubled the estimation of ten league games made by Wane during the previous season. He was given a five-year contract from the club.[46]

2010 season[edit]

Following the play-off loss to St. Helens, Noble announced his departure from the club after not being offered a new contract, and five days later Michael Maguire was revealed as the new head coach of Wigan.[47][48] In Maguire's 2010 squad, Tomkins' position as Wigan's first choice stand-off was confirmed when he received the number 6 jersey from the departed Smith.[49] The club also signed Wigan-born Paul Deacon during the pre-season, with the intention of having him mentor Tomkins in an assistant coaching role.[50]

Tomkins played in every match of Wigan's 2010 season. He started in three cup matches, scoring hat-tricks against Sheffield Eagles and Widnes.[2][45][51][52] He also featured in all of Wigan's fixtures of 2010's Super League XV regular season, with the team finishing top of the league table and winning the League Leader's Shield.[2][45][53][54] By virtue of this the team qualified for the play-offs, in which Tomkins made a further four appearances on the way to Wigan's Grand Final victory over St. Helens—the club's first league title since 1998's Super League III and Tomkins' first honour as a player.[2][45][53][55]

Tomkins was played at scrum-half for Wigan's round 12 fixture against Harlequins with Sean O'Loughlin covering his position at stand-off instead.[56] In round 19, again against Harlequins, Tomkins marked his first league appearance as a fullback with the game's first score and a try-saving tackle on Lamont Bryan. The Daily Mirror reported Maguire as saying, "Sam wanted a go at fullback and played very well. He's a quality kid in any position."[57] He remained in that position for the rest of the season, including the Grand Final, except for one match against Warrington in round 22 where he was reverted to stand-off again.[58]

Over 34 total appearances, Tomkins improved on his 2009 record with 21 tries and four goals.[2][45] In the league, he claimed four braces in total: once as a stand-off against Hull, and three times as a fullback against Salford, Hull again and Leeds.[59][60][61][62] He also scored a try during the Grand Final against St. Helens.[55] Despite finishing the season as Wigan's regular fullback, Tomkins maintained his place in the 2010 Super League Dream Team in the stand-off position. Also in the team was Joel Tomkins at second-row. This was the first time a Super League Dream Team had featured two brothers.[63] At 2010's Super League XV awards evening, where his Wigan teammate Pat Richards was voted by his fellow Super League players as Man of Steel for having the biggest impact on the season, Tomkins retained his Young Player of the Year title.[64] He also received 2010's Albert Goldthorpe Medal for 'best and fairest' player of the season. He was also named Rookie of the Year by the Rugby League International Federation during the 2010 Four Nations, in which he played for England.[65]

2011 season[edit]

The previous season's transition to fullback was made permanent by the club when Tomkins inherited the number 1 jersey from Cameron Phelps, whose 2010 season was blighted by injury and was not offered a new contract.[66][67] With speculation that Tomkins might move to the National Rugby League or switch codes to rugby union, Wigan offered him a new five-year contract keeping him at the club until the end of the 2015 season.[68]

Sam Tomkins playing in 2011, running at Daryl Millard of the Catalans Dragons

Tomkins made 34 appearances during the 2011 season: 28 in Super League XVI, 5 in the Challenge Cup, and one in the World Club Challenge, in which he scored a drop goal in Wigan's 15–21 loss to the St. George Illawarra Dragons.[2][45][69][70] Tomkins received a match ban in round 6, for joining a fight in the previous match against Hull, meaning that for the first time since the final regular round fixture against Huddersfield in 2009, he missed a first-grade match.[71][72] Due to his involvement for England in the inaugural International Origin against the Exiles, he was also rested for Wigan's away game against Castleford.[73]

His scoring record in 2011 started in the opening round against St. Helens in which he kicked a goal but missed a drop goal which would have won the game for Wigan.[74] His first try came during Wigan's next game at Bradford.[75] A match-tying penalty kicked by Tomkins salvaged a draw for Wigan against Leeds.[76] From 25 April to 4 June, Tomkins scored thirteen tries in seven games for Wigan, including braces against Crusaders and Harlequins in the league and Barrow in the cup, as well as a hat-trick against Hull Kingston Rovers.[77][78][79][80] He scored his second hat-trick of the season against Huddersfield, taking his career total to six.[81] In Wigan's fifth round cup win over Bradford, Gareth Raynor's high tackle left Tomkins unconscious as he was scoring a try, an incident which ended both Raynor's and Tomkins' involvement in the match due to a sending-off and a head injury respectively.[82] Despite missing part of Wigan's away match to Hull because of a shoulder injury, Tomkins returned from the bench and scored two tries in a 16–30 victory; after the match, Sky Sports reported that he had become a "strong favourite" for the season's Man of Steel award.[83][84] He followed this up a week later with a try-scoring man of the match performance against St. Helens as Wigan won their first cup semi-final since 2004.[85][86] Wigan returned to league action with a win at home to Salford, with Tomkins scoring four tries.[87] He scored another brace against Bradford in Wigan's last match before the Challenge Cup final.[88] Tomkins played in that final as part of a victorious Wigan team, giving Tomkins his first Challenge Cup honour, although Jeff Lima was given the Lance Todd Trophy award which Tomkins had been pre-match favourite to win.[89][90][91] After the final, the Rugby Football League investigated and found Tomkins guilty of an obscene gesture aimed at fans of the opposing Leeds team, for which he was given a suspended GBP£1,000 fine.[92][93] His points tally for Wigan's season totalled 32 tries, five goals, and one drop goal.[2][45][69] After the season, he signed a new contract to play for Wigan, shortly after his brother Joel agreed to switch codes and play rugby union for Saracens F.C.[94] According to The Guardian, the deal would make Sam Tomkins the highest paid player in Super League at £300,000 a year, and would rule out a cross-code transfer of his own for at least three years.[94]

2013 season[edit]

On 23 June 2013, the Sydney Morning Herald published news of Tomkins impending departure from Wigan to join the New Zealand Warriors of Australia's NRL competition.[95] Further speculation regarding the move was sparked when Tomkins' mother was seen in Auckland in July looking at residential properties. On 24 September 2013, it was confirmed that Tomkins would join the Warriors on a three year deal starting in 2014, signed for a world record fee.[96][97]

New Zealand Warriors[edit]

Tomkins' first games for the Warriors were in the inaugural Auckland Nines tournament held during the 2014 NRL pre-season. His first official game came in the first round of the new NRL season against the Parramatta Eels. The Warriors lost 36-16. In his second game, against the St. George Illawarra Dragons, he scored a try in the Warriors' 31-12 loss. He scored his second try of the season in the Warriors' 42-18 thumping against the Tigers in round 4 of the season.

He had his breakout game for the New Zealand club in the round 18 48-0 victory over the Parramatta Eels. Tomkins scored two tries, one of which was directly from the lock position after a scrum win against the feed. The other of which, also from a scrum play, was down the short side where he broke four tackles in a fantastic individual effort. He also set up a brilliant try for captain Simon Mannering. In the first half, Tomkins recorded nine tackle breaks, a try assist, two line breaks, 84 running metres and two tries.[98] His first half performance truly put him on the map in the National Rugby League after some debate previous to this game over whether he was worth the big money.

Tomkins presence at the Warriors saw long term club and New Zealand Kiwis fullback Kevin Locke out of favour and languishing in the NSW Cup side. As a consequence of Tomkins good form, Locke was released by the club mid-season so he could join English side Salford.

Representative career[edit]

In the 2008 World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, England's campaign ended with a 32–22 loss to New Zealand at the semi-final stage.[99] England responded to their exit from the tournament by replacing a number of veterans with younger players for the 2009 Four Nations.[100] Tomkins, who was then playing at stand-off for Wigan, was included in a new-look squad which featured a quarter of its players aged 21 or below.[100]

In broken play, he is absolutely devastating. If the defensive line is not quite strong enough, he will absolutely rip you to shreds. He is a rising star in rugby league.

Iestyn Harris, Wales head coach, 18 October 2009.[101]

On 18 October 2009, having played less than thirty games for Wigan, Tomkins made his international debut for Tony Smith's England team against Wales at Brewery Field in a warm-up match for the Four Nations tournament.[101] The then-twenty-year-old scored a hat-trick in a 12–48 victory, with Iestyn Harris, the Welsh head coach and former dual-code rugby international, praising Tomkins' contribution to the winning England team.[101] Despite this, Tomkins was left out of the squad that faced France in the opening Four Nations fixture.[102] He replaced Richie Myler for England's defeat against Australia at Wigan's DW Stadium, with an impressed Darren Lockyer, the Australian captain, stating after the match, "To be honest, we didn't really know their young fellas. We do now."[103][104][105] With Smith showing confidence in the young half-back pairing between Kyle Eastmond and Tomkins, Tomkins maintained his place in the squad which won their must-win match against New Zealand for a place in the tournament final.[106][107] The hosting England side, playing at Elland Road, Leeds, were overcome by Australia in the closing thirty minutes of the final despite leading 16–14 at one point, although the pairing between Eastmond and Tomkins was, according to Sky Sports, impressive.[108]

Smith resigned as England coach following the Four Nations, with Steve McNamara announced as the team's new head coach.[109][110] Tomkins kept his place in the England team when they played France in a mid-season friendly, and he responded by scoring four tries on England's way to a 60–6 win, a record-equalling tally for an England player in a single match.[111] Tomkins appeared in all three of England's matches at the 2010 Four Nations, firstly in a defeat by New Zealand where a Kevin Brown try scored from a Tomkins kick was disallowed by the video referee due to Tomkins pushing Greg Eastwood in the process.[112] Another comprehensive defeat by Australia ended England's hopes of reaching the final, in a match where Tomkins made his first international switch from the halves to fullback.[113] He stayed in this position for England's final match against Papua New Guinea, a 36–10 victory in which Tony Clubb equalled Tomkins' four-try record.[114]

Tomkins featured at full-back for the inaugural International Origin in 2011, which England lost thanks to Wigan teammate George Carmont's 79th minute try for the Exiles. Tomkins was booed by England supporters from opposing clubs within the Headingley crowd at Leeds,[115] an incident which was criticised as "disgraceful"[116] by Jamie Peacock, the England captain and Leeds forward, however Wigan head coach Michael Maguire claimed Tomkins had not been affected by the abuse.[117] Following the completion of the rugby league domestic season, Tomkins was included in a pre-Four Nations test against France.[118] In England's opening match of the 2011 Four Nations against Wales, he scored four tries, which for the second time in his international career equalled the record for the most tries by a player representing England.[119] After playing against Australia at Wembley Stadium in a match which England ended the losing side, Tomkins scored a try against New Zealand.[120][121] England's victory over the Kiwis meant that for the second time in three years, Tomkins featured for England in a Four Nations final against Australia, although they ended runners-up to Australia after losing 8–30. Playing fullback, Tomkins had an unhappy night under the high ball at Elland Road.[122] A week after the final, he played at right wing and scored a try for the Barbarians, a British-based invitational rugby union side, against the Australian Wallabies, although the Barbarians lost 11–60.[123][124] The match was Tomkins's first match of professional rugby union; Tomkins admitted that prior to training with the Barbarians he did not know what numbers were allocated to which position in rugby union.[124] On his first experience of the sport, Tomkins was quoted by the BBC as saying, "I am glad I have had the chance to play but I am still a rugby league player."[124]

International Test caps[edit]

As per the official England Rugby League website, not including International Origin matches.[125]

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 18 October 2009 Brewery Field, Bridgend, Wales  Wales 12–48 Win Friendly
2 31 October 2009 DW Stadium, Wigan, England  Australia 16–26 Loss 2009 Four Nations
3 7 November 2009 Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield, England  New Zealand 20–12 Win 2009 Four Nations
4 14 November 2009 Elland Road, Leeds, England  Australia 16–46 Loss 2009 Four Nations
5 12 June 2010 Leigh Sports Village, Leigh, England  France 60–6 Win Friendly
6 23 October 2010 Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand  New Zealand 24–10 Loss 2010 Four Nations
7 31 October 2010 Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne, Australia  Australia 34–14 Loss 2010 Four Nations
8 6 November 2010 Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand  Papua New Guinea 36–10 Win 2010 Four Nations
9 21 October 2011 Parc des Sports, Avignon, France  France 18–32 Win Friendly
10 29 October 2011 Leigh Sports Village, Leigh, England  Wales 42–4 Win 2011 Four Nations
11 5 November 2011 Wembley Stadium, London, England  Australia 20–36 Loss 2011 Four Nations
12 12 November 2011 KC Stadium, Hull, England  New Zealand 28–6 Win 2011 Four Nations
13 19 November 2011 Elland Road, Leeds, England  Australia 8–30 Loss 2011 Four Nations

International tries[edit]

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 18 October 2009 Brewery Field, Bridgend, Wales  Wales 12–48 Win Friendly
2
3
4 12 June 2010 Leigh Sports Village, Leigh, England  France 60–6 Win Friendly
5
6
7
8 29 October 2011 Leigh Sports Village, Leigh, England  Wales 42–4 Win 2011 Four Nations
9
10
11
12 12 November 2011 KC Stadium, Hull, England  New Zealand 28–6 Win 2011 Four Nations

Career statistics[edit]

Awards and achievements[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
New award
Wigan Warriors Reserve Team Player of the Year
2008[21]
Succeeded by
Liam Farrell[43]
Preceded by
Pat Richards[21]
Wigan Warriors Player of the Year
2009[43]
Succeeded by
Pat Richards[126]
Preceded by
Joel Tomkins[21]
Wigan Warriors Young Player of the Year
2009[43]
Succeeded by
Liam Farrell[126]
Preceded by
Joe Westerman[127]
Super League Young Player of the Year
2009–10[42][64]
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Preceded by
Ryan Hall[128]
Rugby League International Federation Rookie of the Year
2010[65]
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Achievements
Preceded by
Leon Pryce[129]
Super League Dream Team
Stand-off

2009–13[41][63]
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Preceded by
Stuart Fielden
Rugby League Transfer Record
Wigan Warriors to New Zealand Warriors

2013-
Succeeded by
Incumbent

Honours[edit]

Grand Final: 2

2010, 2013

League Leaders Shield: 2

2010, 2012

Challenge Cup: 2

2011, 2013

References[edit]

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