Warriors' Sam Tomkins finding his feet in NRL
He came with a lot of bluster, Sam Tomkins.
The Wigan fullback who set the record for the highest ever transfer fee paid for a league player, has had a successful dabble in rugby, scored countless tries in the English Super League, and is now getting paid $750,000 a year to ply his trade with the Warriors in Auckland.
A marquee signing comes with a fair few expectations and as the 25-year-old found, a fair bit of attention.
It is only now, he says, that his skills on the field are starting to drown out the chatter off it.
"All the talk has died off a bit and the media attention on me being the new guy is not quite as intense," Tomkins said at the team's training this week.
"I think that's good for me, and good for the team. It's never good just hearing about one player and what they are going to do when they come into the team. We play such a team sport, that never helps."
Tomkins moved to Auckland at the end of last year and bought a house in seaside Orakei. He has trained with his new team since then and played in every game this year, scoring five tries to date.
But the past couple of weeks his skills have really started to shine and the mistakes, including a couple of frantic moments under the high ball, have dropped off.
Tomkins agreed he was feeling more comfortable.
"Coming to a new side, you have got to learn about the players around you and how they play. I think the more game time that I have on the field with the boys, it makes it easier and easier."
Newly signed Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden has also allowed Tomkins to play a role which puts him almost back where he started his league, in the halves.
Tomkins played at number six for the first two years of his league career and said he was enjoying the chance to mix it with the playmakers. This was particularly evident in the Warriors' 54-12 rout of the Raiders with Chad Townsend feeding Tomkins and Shaun Johnson in playmaker roles.
"[McFadden] has given me a bit more of a roaming role and with that comes a little bit more ball play in the front line. I enjoy that, it's part of my game that I have always enjoyed."
Tomkins said Sunday's game against the Bulldogs at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton was an important one for the Warriors after a one-point loss to the Sydney side in round six at Eden Park.
"We need to get one back over them. We feel like they did us a few weeks ago, winning by one point. We felt we were the better team in that game and through fault of our own we lost that.
"If we had played a little bit smarter at times we would have come away with a win. I think we have learnt from that and from that game we have been growing and getting better and better.
"There is no doubt there is a reason [the Bulldogs] are where they are in the league. There is certainly weaknesses we can try and exploit of theirs and try and restrict some of their best players."