In his first outing as an NRL player Sam Tomkins performance at the Auckland 9’s would have to be described as mixed.
There is a lot of interest in how Sam Tomkins goes in his transition from Super League with Wigan to the National Rugby League with the New Zealand Warriors. Some people want to see him succeed while others want to see him fail miserably. That meant that all eyes were on Tomkins on the weekend. So, how did he go?
In the early games Tomkins looked great. He used his footwork well and cause a number of problems for opposition teams. He played up in the defensive line for most of the competition and showed that he probably should be playing at five-eighth rather than at fullback in the NRL. His footwork and passing game is more suited to five-eighth in my opinion. He has a really good short passing game too, which is hard to teach a player. I believe a good short passing game is one of the deadliest weapons a good playmaker can have.
If Tomkins is to play at five-eighth rather than fullback it will all come down to his defense at the end of the day. He is very small compared to the players he is playing against. He handled the defensive pressure fairly well at the Auckland 9’s. He will need to translate that into the NRL season. I think his big problem will be the physical toll the defensive workload will have on him during the regular season. Teams will target him, he will need to make a lot of tackles over the course of the season. Over Tomkins career he has been a little bit injury prone, so that is a concern.
Physically it would be better for him if he were to play fullback. I just don’t think Tomkins is good enough under the high ball to play fullback in the NRL. Couple that with the fact that the Warriors have at least two other players at the club who are without doubt first grade quality fullbacks and you have to think Tomkins first game in the NRL season will see him named in the halves.
As the Auckland 9’s tournament rolled along Tomkins became less involved in play. He didn’t take the line on as much and for the most part just passed the ball out to the players outside him. On day two in particular Tomkins seemed to lack a bit of spark. My guess is the workload coupled with the warm conditions started to wear on him, which is fair enough. He wasn’t the only player that suffered under the conditions.
There were many more positive than negatives though, which was great to see. Just the experience of playing against a number of different teams in such a short space of time will have done him well. It allowed him to have a soft debut in the NRL rather than being under the extreme spotlight in game one of the regular season.
Overall Sam Tomkins first outing as an NRL player were a success. There is a long way to go but I for one am excited to see how it all plays out. I hope he does well.
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