How Likely Is It That Sam Tomkins Will Ever Play In The NRL?

He is regarded by many as being the best player in Super League, and although under contract with Wigan for a few more years there is a general feeling that he is already looking at a move away from the club in the not too distant future.

So, will we ever see Sam Tomkins playing in the NRL?

As a fullback, Tomkins main trouble finding a way into the NRL is that there are just 16 places available and he has a massive amount of talent ahead of him. There are so many talented players that could walk into any NRL side and play well at fullback, and many of them are much safer options than Tomkins. When you consider that Tomkins would not look to move to Australia for cheap, he would find it very hard to make himself a true option at fullback for any club when most teams would have cheaper options at their own club playing in the lower grades or even playing on the wing.

We have all see Tomkins struggles under the high ball. That alone would put most NRL clubs off the thought of signing him as a fullback. That is not even taking into account his positioning in defense or his tackling ability. Unless he was willing to take a big pay cut and the right opportunity came along, say a club with very few fullback options and a lot of salary cap space to burn, I just can’t see any NRL club taking much interest in him as a fullback.

In the halves, Tomkins may become a much better option for a club that is willing to take a bit of a gamble. Tomkins has a lot of experience playing in the halves, even at test level, and his good footwork and broken field play is something I think a good coach could use to turn him into a pretty handy five-eighth. We have seen at the Melbourne Storm with Gareth Widdop, in the right situation you can turn a good fullback into a handy playmaker. I’d look for a similar career path for Tomkins in the NRL.

His biggest problem playing in the halves in the NRL would be his defense. Tomkins has a very slight build and playing in the defensive line would be an issue. He would get a lot of traffic headed his way and how he would handle that on a week to week basis is anyone guess. His kicking game would also be under a spotlight, few NRL clubs can afford to carry a five-eighth that can’t be used as a genuine kicking option. There are so many unknowns about how his game would translate in the NRL, and at the end of the day that is the biggest hurdle for him playing in the NRL.

I think you could find a place for him, but the situation has to be perfect. He would need a dominant halfback to take the pressure off him needing to guide the team around the park. You’d want Tomkins to be a wide ball runner usuing his footwork and broken field play running instincts to try and break open the defense out wide. He would need to come over on a reasonable salary, possibly less than he earns at Wigan right now, and I don’t know that that is the best career option for him to be honest.

I tend to think that Sam Tomkins will see out this season with Wigan, play in the Rugby League World Cup, and then switch to Rugby Union. His brother Joel has already made the switch and is one of Englands top Rugby Union players already, and with a Super League title and a Rugby League World Cup appearance under his belt, he can go to Rugby Union on huge money and target not only the Rugby Union World Cup but a walk up start in Englands Rugby Union sevens team that will play in the Olympics.

I tend to think that is the better career path for Tomkins I’m sad to say.

NRL clubs have shown they are willing to sign the best forwards from Super League if those players are willing to come over for less than they were earning in Super League. The likes of Sam Burgess and James Graham didn’t get head hunted by NRL clubs offering huge contracts, they come his with a desire to test themselves in the NRL at quite a personal cost. I don’t know that Sam Tomkins has that same drive to test himself in the worlds best competition.

As great as Burgess and Graham have been, I’m sure both would tell you that even the highest of highs in the NRL can quickly turn into humbling moments in the blink of an eye. Tomkins doesn’t really have to deal with any of that. He can play out the season with Wigan, play in the World Cup, make a big money switch to Rugby Union and become the RFU’s poster boy.

I don’t see him turning his back on that.

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One thought on “How Likely Is It That Sam Tomkins Will Ever Play In The NRL?

  1. Agree with your views. I have thought ever since Wigan re-signed him that the carrot was the RLWC and then he’d go to Union for theirs. As you say, until he learns to catch a ball under pressure he’ll not make a great RL full back. I think he could play in other positions and be successful in Oz.. But it’ll probably be a safer and more lucrative option for him to go to Union.

    It won’y be for the “challenge” as they all like to say. if they wanted a challenge they’d try to win something with the England / GB RL team! Now that would be a challenge.

    Would like him to stay in RL though – either in Britain or Oz.


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