Sam Tomkins names “outstanding” player who he “mithers Shaun Wane to death about”

Josh McAllister
Matt Whitley, PA

Picture by Lee Parker/Zuma Press/PA Images

Having made his debut in 2008 with Wigan, ex-England captain Sam Tomkins has played with a whole host of back-rowers across his career.

The two-time Man of Steel winner enjoyed a successful career at the DW Stadium, and featured in the NRL with New Zealand Warriors across two seasons before returning to England.

He made the move to the south of France with Catalans ahead of 2019, featuring in their first-ever Grand Final appearance.

And one player who he believes remains underrated within the Super League competition is team-mate and back-rower Matt Whitley.

The 27-year-old joined the Dragons from Widnes for the same season as Tomkins, and has gone on to make 89 appearances for the French outfit, scoring 31 tries.

He has presented England Knights on the international scene, making his debut in 2018, but is yet to earn a call-up to the senior squad in his career.  

Sam Tomkins highlights “outstanding” Matt Whitley

“Some players, you only realise how good they are when you play with them,” Tomkins told Love Rugby League.

“Steve [McNamara] brought him in and he’s been outstanding. 

“It’s the stuff he does away from the ball, he works really hard and he’s a natural back-rower. 

“I think he’s underrated and I mither Shaun Wane to death about him. 

“He’s not listened yet, but I think in the future, if he keeps progressing, he’s certainly going in the right direction to become a really, really good Super League player.”

“I enjoy playing outside him every single time.”

Wane is already bolstered with star players within his back-row, with Elliott Whitehead, John Bateman, Joe Batchelor and Kai Pearce-Paul all having featured for England in last year’s World Cup on home soil.

However, Tomkins believes that Whitley has all the potential to step up for England’s first team, with several of the current squad members coming towards the end of their respective careers. 

“It’s a tough position back-row, we’ve got a lot of good English back-rowers,” Tomkins, who will retire at the end of the year, explained.

“You look at people like Liam Farrell, he’s still running around like he’s 21 – although he looks 51 – people like that are in front of him in the England set up. 

“It’s a tough position to crack, but Matt goes about his work every single week and he’s an outstanding player. 

“I enjoy playing outside him every single time because I know what I’m going to get from him.”

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