Paul Cooke, the former Hull Kingston Rovers stand-off, believes that his old club has signed a ‘quality’ player in Joel Tomkins in their fight to avoid relegation.
The former dual-code international is expected to make his Rovers bow in Sunday’s clash at Castleford.
The 31-year-old backrower left Wigan after a video of him hurling a torrent of abuse at bar staff went viral last weekend. A second such video was released by his brother, Sam, on social media.
Tomkins issued an apology last week but it was not enough for him to stay at Wigan.
“The signing doesn’t surprise me because Rovers need extra quality, whether they make the top eight or, more likely, the Qualifiers,” said Cooke.
“When a quality player becomes available for whatever reason, then teams around the bottom are going interested. Catalans signed Kenny Edwards on a similar basis.
“When you look at Joel Tomkins, this type of incident seems to be a one-off. He doesn’t come across like that. He’s been caught on camera and it doesn’t look good. His days were numbered at Wigan, but he should be able to continue his career elsewhere.”
Although Cooke acknowledges Tomkins hasn’t been the same player since returning from rugby union in 2014, he is adamant that he will improve Rovers.
“When he went to Saracens he was at the top of his game,” said Cooke.
“It’s always tough to cross codes and come back.
“Although Josh Charnley is currently disproving that, it isn’t easy. Joel is struggling, but he is still a quality player.”
Cooke, who was no stranger to controversy in his career, also believes that Tomkins deserves a second chance.
“It’s not just about a second chance,” said Cooke.
“People mature at different rates. He’s made a big mistake. He’s apologised and paid a financial penalty. He’s also had to leave Wigan, which will hurt him.
“It all comes down to whether he re-offends. It will be tough if he does something similar, but if he’s sensible he won’t put himself in that position again.
“A lot of players have got into trouble at some point in their career, but he’ll be good for Rovers.”
In their first season back in Super League, Rovers are second from last on the league ladder, five points from the coveted eighth place.
“Survival will be tough for Super League’s bottom four because the form of Championship teams is very good,” said Cooke.
“They’ll be very confident against the Super League teams, but Rovers will get back some key players soon and should have enough quality to negotiate the Qualifiers.
“But if key players are missing, then you never know.”