RFL CEO Nigel Wood believes the selection of Sam Tomkins by the rugby union Barbarians testifies to Rugby League’s proud track record of developing skilful, world class athletes.
Tomkins, the Wigan Warriors and England full-back, will play for the Barbarians against the Wallabies at Twickenham next Saturday, just a week after representing England against Australia in the final of 2011 Gillette Four Nations.
His selection was agreed between the Barbarians and his Super League club Wigan, with whom he signed an extended five-year contract earlier this month.
“I’m sure Sam will be successful on Saturday when he plays his first match in an unfamiliar code because he’s a hugely talented Rugby League player, one of many our sport is producing,” said Wood.
“Rugby League has an outstanding track record in developing its own players and is continuing to show union the way ahead. Sam’s inclusion in a sport he knows little about is proof of that
“You only have to look at how often union has turned to Rugby League players and coaches over the last 15 years to see the calibre of talent we have in our midst.
“It’s obvious to even the most casual of observers why union continues to covet Rugby League players whose sheer athleticism and outstanding skills with ball in hand make them extremely attractive to the other code of rugby.
“Sam’s selection underlines that imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery. Both Sam and Rugby League should feel flattered.”