Tomkins return from NZ leaves a feeling of slight disappointment

The news this week that Sam Tomkins is set to return to the UK from New Zealand next season is somehow a little disappointing.

Tomkins has been neither a huge hit nor a massive let-down in Auckland during his two seasons with the Warriors. His 13 tries in 24 games in 2014 show that.

But he is currently sidelined with injury, and it was perhaps telling that Down Under the news focus was on the Warriors signing Roger Tuivasa Sheck as a replacement, rather than on Tomkins leaving.

The England full-back does not seem to have hit the heights that his hype had seemed to suggest, which is a shame.

It would have been great to see a British player in a skilful position like full-back really take the NRL apart.

While English forwards like the Burgess boys, Mike Cooper and James Graham have made a real impact in the NRL, backs have been a bit thin on the ground in recent years.

Super League seems to be able to create good, aggressive forwards who can live with, and beat, the best. It has been a long time since a British back went to Australia and was a hit, though.

Tomkins was solid at New Zealand, but that was all. And some of us expected so much more than that.

But then again, perhaps that was unfair. It is not like he has been a failure, by any measure, during his time with the Warriors.

It’s just that he hasn’t been as excitingly brilliant as many of us in the Northern Hemisphere wanted him to be.

Maybe that says more about us than about him as a player. It certainly contributes to the lingering sense of disappointment about his imminent return.

Sky pundit Phil Clarke has mooted the idea that perhaps Tomkins will not return to Wigan. After all, Clarke has pointed out, he was a Warrington fan as a boy.

Seeing him out of his comfort zone at a different Super League club would undoubtedly be interesting, and perhaps give the player the chance to show that he can perform to his potential away from the comfortable familiarity of Wigan.

As it stands, it is hard to see Tomkins going on to be classed as one of the greats, once his career ends, if he cannot play well away from home.

As for whether a British back can make it in the NRL, we’ll have to wait and see. Joe Burgess is set to join Sydney Roosters next season.

Hopefully he can be the kind of big hit that some of us wanted Sam Tomkins to be.

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