Sam Tomkins believes his first full pre-season in almost a decade will bring the best out of him this season at Wigan, as he admits he would love to line up alongside the man considered to be his direct rival for the fullback berth in 2018.
Tomkins is in a head-to-head battle with Morgan Escaré for the fullback shirt for this Friday’s season-opener at Salford.
However, he hinted that he would be happy playing stand-off if it meant Escaré made the side, after praising the young Frenchman’s impact on pre-season training so far.
Tomkins said: “I’m not saying I only want to play one role, but I’d like to play alongside Morgan, and that would obviously mean I would play in the halves.
“He went really well last year and I think he was always underused at Catalans. This year, he’ll kick on and improve more and more.
“It’s tough, because he doesn’t speak much English, but when you get him out there, he’s rugby smart.
“He’s got a lot to his game that we haven’t even seen yet. He’s one of the best trainers; he’s ridiculously quick and I’d love to be in the same team as him. If that’s what it took, that would be fine by me.”
Tomkins also believes that his first uninterrupted pre-season in nine years will also benefit his own game, too. “2009 was my last full pre-season,” he revealed.
“You get three times longer to get ready than normal in situations like this year. Having played internationals and then having surgeries, you always feel like you’re playing catch-up and you’re chasing it.
“This way, you can get some fitness into you, some strength and you end up in a really good spot.
“We’ve never finished so early, so we were back in at the start of November. Now I’m at the other end of it, I’m glad I’ve had a full pre-season.”
Tomkins also hit back at critics who have suggested Wigan have under-recruited this season, pointing to a particular instance eight years ago when they proved their doubters wrong.
He said: “In 2010 in pre-season we were getting questioned, and the only signing we made was Paul Deacon.
“We went on and won the Grand Final for the first time in twelve years. We don’t make masses of signings because we’re lucky that we grow our own. I get it when I’m walking around Tesco bumping into every Rugby League expert – I seem to go shopping at the same time as all the experts! Put our squad against any other in Super League and, one-for-one, we can beat anyone.”