Former dual-code international Joel Tomkins has returned to Wigan Warriors in a coaching capacity after spending two years in the Fire Service.
The 36-year-old retired from playing at the end of the 2021 season, and soon after applied to enter the Fire Service.
But Tomkins, who won a Super League title, Challenge Cup and World Club Challenge whilst with Wigan, has now returned to the club in an off-field role, taking up the position of scholarship head coach.
The 2010 Super League Dream Team member will also work with the club’s academy as an assistant coach, whilst helping out with Matt Peet’s first team a couple of days per week.
Love Rugby League caught up with Tomkins at Wigan’s 2024 Media Day at Robin Park Arena, where the club officially announced his return.
Explaining how his return came about, Tomkins told Love Rugby League: “When I retired at the end of 2021 I applied for the Fire Service and I got in, so I did two years in the Fire Service and was just about to finish my apprenticeship there when I got a phone call from Matty (Peet), who said there was a job opportunity at the club and he thought I’d be good at it, he said ‘why don’t you put your name in the hat?’ so I did and luckily I got the role.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to be honest. I loved my time in the Fire Service, I’ve not got a bad word to say about it but I think sometimes opportunities like this come up and you’ve got to take them, just the same as when you’re a player, so it’s a tough decision I’ve had to make.
“I’ve left the Fire Service chapter behind now and started this, so it’s exciting and it’s all changed since I was last here.”
Joel Tomkins ‘excited’ to start his new role with Wigan Warriors
Tomkins knows just what it’s like trying to become a professional rugby league player at Wigan, having come through the Warriors‘ famous academy, making his first team debut in 2005 before going on to enjoy a distinguished 16-year career in Super League.
He is keen to make a positive impact in his new position, and wants build the respected culture at the Warriors – from scholarship right through to the first team.
Tomkins added: “To be honest, if you’d have asked me three months ago I’d have said I’d be in the Fire Service for the next 25 years but I just got one phonecall and sometimes that’s all it takes.
“I weighed it up, I came in and met Rads (Kris Radlinski, chief executive) and Matty and they explained what the role was and what impact they thought I could have, and I’m just impressed with the way things are progressing.
“Look at the club now, look at the facilities, look at the way Matty is running things, the influence that Rads is having on the place. It’s not just all on-field, it’s the off-field stuff as well.
“And with the new owner (Mike Danson) now as well, I think there are exciting times ahead so I just saw it as an opportunity to get back involved, especially with it being Wigan and I think the role I’m taking is the head coach of the scholarship, assistant coach with the academy and then I’m going to be doing a day or two a week with the first team as well.
“I think the main focus is to make sure the values and behaviours that Matty has instilled in the first team run all the way through the academy and down to the scholarship.
“My main priority is getting these lads in the scholarship prepared for when they come up to the academy and ultimately the first team, so they know what to expect and how to be a Wigan player and what’s expected of them as Wigan players. It’s an exciting role for me.”