Warriors can bank on new recruit Sam Tomkins

ON THE BREAK: Sam Tomkins in action for the Warriors at the Auckland Nines.
ON THE BREAK: Sam Tomkins in action for the Warriors at the Auckland Nines.

He cost a reported $1.4 million in transfer fees alone, and that's before taking into account how much of the team's salary cap he's taking up.

So tonight for Sam Tomkins the time has come to deliver on all the hype, expectation and optimism about him since Sunday News last year broke the story that he was coming to the Warriors.

All the signs since his arrival in New Zealand are that he'll live up to that hype. He was sensational in the Auckland Nines and against the Broncos in a trial game a week later.

But the real acid test will come tonight against the Eels in Parramatta and that's when Warriors fans will really discover if the biggest name in the English game can hack it in the NRL.

For Tomkins' part he has handled himself well since moving down under at the end of last year. He doesn't appear to be feeling nervous heading into what must be one of the biggest games of his life.

"I'm really excited about it, it seems like I've been waiting a while for it," Tomkins told Sunday News.

"It was a while ago that I decided that I wanted to play in the NRL and I'm happy that it's now come around.

"I've prepared as best as I possibly can, the training has been pretty intense and I've really enjoyed it, so I think I'll be as ready as I'll ever be."

As Greg Inglis showed in his hat-trick performance for the Rabbitohs against the Roosters on Thursday night, fullbacks are the stars of league these days and a team can only go so far without a decent one.

It's no coincidence that the Storm, Rabbitohs, Roosters and Sea Eagles all have world-class No 1s and also no surprise that the Bulldogs are panicking about not having a replacement for Ben Barba.

With Tomkins at the Warriors, the club believe they can make that jump from a club that's failed to finish above 10th in the past two seasons, to one that can demand a place in the top four.

Throw in the impressive Jayson Bukuya and sprinkle in a mix of the talented young players at the club like John Palavi and Glen Fisiiahi as well as Tuimoala Lolohea, David Fusitua and Solomone Kata over the course of the season and this really could be a special year.

But it will be Tomkins who is charged with the responsibility of getting the Warriors back on track.

His combination with Shaun Johnson is vital and not just because it can lead to him scoring tries (he scored 144 tries in 151 games for Wigan). But he also has a great skill in sucking in the opposition winger before offloading to a team mate.

"I want to play my part in this side and if that means it's me or someone else in the side scoring the tries that really doesn't matter," Tomkins said.

"It looks nice to get your name in the paper, but it's not what we play for, we don't play to score tries, we play to win games and competitions."

It isn't just in New Zealand where there will be plenty of interest in how Tomkins goes tonight. The UK media will also be watching, pencils sharpened, ready to report on how he fares. It's as if they're hoping Tomkins is a success so that their Super League can be regarded as being on a level par with the NRL.

"I have had plenty of nice messages from people back in England wishing me well and it's good to know about that," he said.

"I'm still doing some work with Sky Sports on their Boots n All programme, so it's good that I've still got that connection back to the UK and I appreciate the support I'm getting from back home."

Five times in the last nine years the Warriors have lost their opening game by six points and they have won just two of their last 10 games to begin the season.

The Eels are expected to battle it out for the wooden spoon this year. Even though they have the likes of Will Hopoate, Jarryd Hayne, Willie Tonga, Tim Mannah and Fuifui Moimoi in their side, it's probably going to be another rebuilding year for them after the failed experiment of bringing in Ricky Stuart as their coach last season.

So this really should be a win for the Warriors and no doubt everyone who is involved in or follows the club would be pretty happy if Tomkins gets a couple of tries in the process.

Sunday News