Rugby League legend Andy Gregory is predicting that Sam Tomkins will take his place amongst a famous sporting elite when he makes his Wembley debut for Wigan Warriors in the 2011 Carnegie Challenge Cup final.
Gregory, a two-time winner of the man-of-the-match award at Wembley, believes the Warriors full-back has what it takes to follow in his footsteps by collecting the Lance Todd Trophy with an outstanding performance against Leeds Rhinos.
“Sam has all the skills of world class player and I think he has what it takes to have a massive final,” said Gregory, who won the Lance Todd Trophy in both 1988 and 1990.
“If Leeds are going to stand any chance of winning they are going to have to stop Sam but that’s easier said than done. He reads the game so well and out there on the Wembley pitch he can cause a lot of damage.
“It’s hard to compare him to players from my generations because the game has changed so much but I have no doubts that Sam would be a star in any era.”
Gregory collected five successive Challenge Cup winners’ medals with Wigan between 1988 and 1992 and is acutely aware that the Class of 2011 are under enormous pressure to deliver against Leeds Rhinos on Saturday week.
“Everyone knows about Wigan’s glorious record in the Challenge Cup final and the name Wembley is synonymous with the club,” he said.
“There are a lot of local lads in this team who will have grown up with stories of Wigan teams of old ringing in their ears and those voices are going to make a lot of noise when they step out on to the Wembley pitch.
“There is no finer feeling in Rugby League than the roar the Wigan fans make when they first catch sight of the team and it’s going to be a very special moment.
“I can’t see the youngsters struggling with the pressure. Most of them have already won a Super League Grand Final and I think they’ll take it in their stride.
“I don’t think it’s going to be as one-sided as some people are predicting. Leeds may not be as commanding a team as they were a couple of years ago but they have a lot of players who know the ropes.
“It’s going to be a real cracker and I only wish I could be out there experiencing it at first hand. This is the biggest game of Rugby League in the world.”