Tomkins return timed perfectly


Published: Friday 17th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Wigan’s decision to re-sign Sam Tomkins was influenced by the likely introduction into Super League of a marquee player rule.

The Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan insists his club will make room on their salary cap in 2016 for the return of the 2012 Man of Steel, who is cutting short his stay in the NRL with New Zealand Warriors, but admits the new exemption will be a big help if it is finally voted in this summer.

Wigan have agreed to pay in excess of £200,000 for a player who was the highest earner in Super League when he left the club in the wake of their 2013 Grand-Final triumph over Warrington.

Lenagan admits accommodating the England full-back will apply pressure to their cap but he told Press Association Sport that he expects that to be eased with the introduction of a new marquee player rule which would take a large chunk of money out of the £1.8million cap.

“It was perfect timing,” Lenagan said. “The signing was not directly connected to the marquee player rule and, if it is not brought in, it would give us more pressure with the salary cap.

“But our expectation is that the rule will be adopted and that fact encouraged us even more to have the conversation with Sam.”

Salford’s wealthy owner Marwan Koukash is the driving force behind the idea of the marquee player and, after twice failing to win enough support, is expected to eventually win the vote in June.

“It was a very close vote last time,” Lenagan said. “If the clubs who were not at that meeting had been there, it would have gone through.

“I have always been supportive of the salary cap but the marquee player rule is a big step forward and a positive for our game.

“It could mean that the likes like Gareth Widdop and Tom Burgess and ultimately even Sam Burgess would be available to Super League and provides incentives and positiveness to invest in players.

“If it meant Leeds end up with Gareth Widdop, I would be delighted, although I would rather it was with Wigan.”

Meanwhile, Tomkins says he is likely to finish his career with his home-town club after rejecting a rival offer from Warrington in favour of a four-year deal with the Warriors.

“I don’t see why I won’t finish my career there,” Tomkins said from his Auckland home. “I’ll hopefully have a few more years after 30. We’ll have to see at the time, but I can’t look much further than four years ahead just yet.”

Tomkins, who turned 26 last month, is already looking forward to adding to the 144 tries he scored in 152 appearances for Wigan in his first spell from 2008-13, especially playing alongside brothers Joel and Logan.

The trio appeared together in a pre-season friendly before Joel left to try his hand at rugby union with Saracens but he returned early last June while Logan is back from a season-long loan at Salford.

“It wasn’t a difficult decision,” Tomkins added. “Wigan wasn’t the only club I spoke to but having the chance to go back to somewhere I know so well and having the chance to play alongside my brothers was a massive pull for me.

“I live only a few minutes from the beach and people think it’s crazy that I’m swapping it for a few minutes from Beech Hill but friends and family are a big deal for me.”

The former Wigan St Patrick’s junior, who was an ever-present for the Warriors in his first season in the NRL, is currently sidelined with a knee injury but is expected back next month and says he has unfinished business in Auckland.

“I’ve still got the rest of this season with the Warriors and I want to finish on a massive high,” he said. “I’m fully committed to playing here for the next five months. Now it’s out in the open, I can re-focus on what the club are doing.”

Published: Friday 17th April 2015 by The News Editor

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