Joel Tomkins on shock Wigan Warriors return – after training as a firefighter

JOEL TOMKINS has traded in his new life as a firefighter to return to Rugby League with the aim of producing stars of the future at Wigan.

Tomkins has been appointed head of scholarship at the Warriors and will also help out as an assistant with the Academy and Reserves.

The former Wigan, Saracens, Hull KR and Catalans star retired from professional sport at the end of 2021 and admitted he needed a break from the game to get a fresh outlook.

“I have done two years in the fire service since I retired,” Tomkins told League Express. 

“I was just about to finish my apprenticeship and I got a call out of the blue from Matty (Peet, Wigan head coach) saying there is an opportunity at the club, put your name forward.

“After a bit of consideration I did. Some big changes have happened since I last played here in 2018. It is really exciting for me to be back involved in this environment.”

Tomkins is relishing his new role and hopes his experience can help mentor and mould future stars of the club.

“I am going to be the head coach of the Scholarship and assistant coach for the Academy and I am going to be in with the first team one or two days a week,” added Tomkins. 

“The main goal for me is to ensure the club’s values and behaviours from the first team are running all the way through the Academy and down to the Scholarship.

“It’s a varied role and it can go in a number of directions. It’s exciting for me; I’ve just served an apprenticeship in the fire service and it’s a good coaching apprenticeship starting at this level with the under-15s and -16s. 

“These lads coming in now, I have been in their shoes 20 years ago. Obviously the game has changed massively, but the pathway is pretty much the same. You are trying to get an Academy contract and then a first-team contract. 

“I think I can give them an insight and give them a helping hand with what they need to do to achieve their goals. That is what coaching is about.”

Tomkins enjoyed his time in the fire service and had no real plans to return to Rugby League, but he knew it was time to get back into the sport at the club he loves. 

“My firefighting career is done. I made the decision, I did two years and if this opportunity had not come up I probably would have spent 25 years in the fire service,” he said.

“I was gutted to leave the fire service, but unfortunately it is not a role where I can do both. I made the choice and I am here.”