Before I get into the specifics I must admit that I am a huge fan of Sam Tomkins and would welcome him into the Cronulla backline today, tomorrow or yesterday. He is a world class talent and I hope to see him in the NRL next season to test his skills against the world’s best week to week.
Earlier in the week Wigan superstar Sam Tomkins headlined a night to celebrate the fact there are now only 200 days until the Rugby League World Cup. New Zealand will be looking to retain their crown in the Old Dart, and to do so will have to overcome favourites Australia and the force of England.
According to reports everything was pretty standard. Promo videos were shown, organisers were more than willing to flaunt the success of the recent London Olympic Games and the World Cup trophy was on show… Until Sam Tomkins said one of the stupidest things I have ever heard from a footballer.
When talking about a potential World XIII Sam Tomkins said:
“Apart from Cameron Smith you’d probably have an all-English pack”
Tomkins was obviously trying to build hype for the tournament and build support for the home team but in saying so made himself look like he had no idea about the game he plays for a living. Either that or he is trolling for responses just like the one he is getting from me and a few on twitter.
Its obvious Tomkins has never heard of a gentleman by the name of Paul Gallen. He mustn’t be familiar with the work of Sam Thaiday, Greg Bird, Luke Lewis or the most dominant front row combination in the game in the form of Matt Scott and James Tamou.
You ask 100 people across the NRL/Super League community whether they would prefer Matt Scott or Eorl Crabtree playing for their side and what do you expect the answer to be? Paul Gallen or Ben Westwood? Sam Thaiday or Jamie Jones-Buchanan?
In terms of a World XIII Sam Burgess would of course be on the run on side, Gareth Ellis could force his way onto the bench and James Graham and Gareth Hock would be pushing for spots however to say no Aussie other than Cameron Smith would be in the “pack” is ludicrous.
I am a big fan of the English Super League, I love the attacking nature, the amazing atmosphere and the individual brilliance of players like Tomkins, McGuire and Briscoe but the week to week quality of the NRL just isn’t there. A fringe NRL first grader in the form of Blake Green is now the halfback of arguably the ESL’s glamour team The Wigan Warriors. Man of Steel winners Brett Hodgson, Pat Richards and Rangi Chase were all quality players in the NRL but hardly in the league of genuine superstars Cam Smith, Greg Inglis etc.
James Graham, England’s premier front rower can’t even make the run on side of his NRL club side the Bulldogs. When he wasn’t biting ears he was a great player at the Bulldogs but there’s no way he would make the Aussie side with Tamou, Scott, and Shillington in front of him.
For the record, the following is what I consider the World XIII’s forward pack:
8. Matt Scott (Australia)
9. Cameron Smith (Australia)
10. James Tamou (Australia)
11. Sam Burgess (England)
12. Sam Thaiday (Australia)
13. Paul Gallen (Australia)
Perhaps if you asked me in another 2-or-so months Sonny Bill Williams would be there somewhere, but no room for any English forward other than Sam Burgess. If you were to include the bench Ellis would be battling it with Greg Bird for a spot alongside Williams, Shillington and Graham (assuming you play 4 forwards off the bench)
Don’t get me wrong, England has a great pack of forwards and they, on their day, can dominate anyone … except The Kangaroos pack. So Mr. Tomkins, thank you for building up the excitement of the World Cup, before I read your comment I had no idea that the World Cup was under 200 days away, but please don’t make outlandish statements such as the previous.
Come to think of it, apart from Burgess, I can’t see an English player who would crack the World 13… Perhaps a winger (Briscoe or Hall) to come in and cover for Darius Boyd, but otherwise the Kangaroo’s side (with Burgess) IS the World XIII.