Catalans Dragons legend Sam Tomkins gets glorious tribute from Sky Sports pundit amid Wigan Warriors Grand Final preparation

Ross Heppenstall
Sam Tomkins and Barrie McDermott Alamy

Saturday’s Super League Grand Final is dripping with sub-plots with Catalans legend Sam Tomkins making his final-ever career appearance against his hometown club Wigan where he won three Grand Finals over two spells.

Several other players are leaving the Dragons at the end of the season while two more ex-Warriors in Tom Davies and Michael McIlorum will line up against their old club at Old Trafford.

“There are so many fantastic sub-plots and storylines and for the purist this is the side who finished top in Wigan against a Catalans side who were second,” said Sky Sports pundit Barrie McDermott in an exclusive interview with Love Rugby League.

“Catalans have eight players who are moving on after this season and Sam Tomkins is one who gets the headlines.

“He’s right up there as one of the greatest ever players, he’s a rugby league superstar and is a charismatic guy who cares about the game as a whole.

“Even though he’s a clutch player, he’s a team man and his evolution as a player has been extraordinary.

“I can’t wait because it’s going to be a terrific final. You’d like to think that as an organisation Catalans have learned from 2021 when they got there and lost narrowly to St Helens.”

Saturday could be a night for the try machines

Abbas Miski and Tom Johnstone are joint-top of the Super League try scoring charts with 27 apiece, while Liam Marshall and Davies have also enjoyed fine campaigns.

“If there’s anyone on the pitch who can score a length-of-the-field try then it’s Tom Johnstone,” adds McDermott.

“He has scored 27 this year and done so with speed, strength and agility.

“The weather’s changing this week and we’ve got a little bit of rain in Manchester, which we usually get in October, so the kicking game comes and kick-chase into play.

“Grand Finals are just as much about how many tries you can save and how desperate you are in defence.

“These four excellent wingers on display will have to focus on saving tries as much as scoring them.”

Barrie McDermott highlights key man who could be key to Catalans’ trophy hopes

McDermott and fellow Sky Sports colleague Terry O’Connor are huge admirers of former Wigan hooker McIlorum.

“We worked with Micky when were coaching Ireland and he’s a real talismanic figure – he sets the temperature for his team’s aggression,” explains McDermott.

“You don’t see him putting his fists up or scuffling much these days but that’s because no-one wants to antagonise him… They don’t want to poke the bear!

“He will often take the game right to the line and when he gets it right there isn’t many better at that intimidating side of the contest.

“Super League is so quick now that there’s very little of that which goes on, but if there’s anyone who understands the dark arts then it’s Michael McIlorum.”

Watch the Betfred Super League Grand Final exclusively live on Sky Sports Main Event and NOW from 5pm Saturday October 14th, and Betfred Super League Wheelchair Final on Sky Sports Arena and NOW from 5pm Sunday October 15th.

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