Wigan Rugby league fullback Sam Tomkins has revealed that he would like to switch codes and play Rugby Union in time to play in the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup.
One interesting quote from the article came towards the end…
“How players get looked after in union off the field far outweighs league by 10 times.”
I would suggest that Tomkins is talking about not only the professionalism of the games, but also the difference in pay between a top Rugby Union player in the UK and a top Rugby League player.
Sam Tomkins is at an interesting point in his career. This season Tomkins has struggles with injuries all season. He is rumoured to have agree’d to play for the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL in 2014 but that has yet to be confirmed on either side of the world. My understanding is that his move to New Zealand is a done deal though…
I’ve always had concerns about how Tomkins would stand up to the physical nature of Rugby League. Not taking away from his skill level or his performance in Super League, but he has a very slight build.
If he does makes his way over to play for the New Zealand Warriors he will find the physical demands of the NRL will take its toll. It is something that Sonny Bill Williams has been struggling with on his return to the game and is said to be one of the main reasons he is looking to return to Rugby Union.
Tomkins can go and play on the wing in Rugby Union and end of having to deal with a fraction of the contact he would have to if he continues his career in Rugby Union.
If Tomkins does want to play in the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup, realistically, he would have to switch codes ASAP. I have said for a long time that I believe Tomkins would switch codes after the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, but then the New Zealand Warriors apparently stepped in with an offer that was too good to refuse.
For Tomkins to play in the NRL in 2014 and then switch to Rugby Union in 2015 leaves little time for him to crack the England Rugby Union team ahead of the Rugby Union World Cup. Still, if you look at how quickly most Rugby League players switch to Union and walk into their international teams, it is very possible he would have enough time.
One thing to take out of all of this is the crumbling stature of Rugby League in Great Britain. Players no longer have much interest at all in playing their careers out at Super League clubs and going on to play for the English Rugby League team.
There are bigger and better things out there that are luring players away from Super League. More money, more exposure, better lifestyles….just a change of scenery. You just have to look at the Burgess brothers and the way their lives have changed by coming to Australia to see what is possible outside of Super League.
There is a stupid notion that some people have that Rugby League players in Great Britain will always aspire to play for clubs based in small towns. That idea is very quickly dying off.
I’re written very recently that Rugby League in Australia needs to look at the career it offers players and offer them exciting opportunities outside of the NRL club competition itself to keep them interested in the game. The NRL is in a position that is light years ahead of where Super League finds itself!
One thing you have to say about Sam Tomkins is that he says what he is thinking. He doesn’t stuff around and play his cards close to his chest. He wants to play Rugby Union, and he has no problems talking about it.
It is not a matter of if, but when Sam Tomkins leaves. Whether he plays a season in the NRL before than is anyone’s guess. One thing you can almost be certain of though…if he does leave to play for the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL, his last ever game for the Wigan Warriors will be played over the next few weeks.