Sam Tomkins: Winning Grand Final with Catalans would rank among career highs

Sam Tomkins says winning Saturday’s Super League Grand Final with Catalans Dragons would rank “as high as anything” on his list of achievements in the sport.

What would be a maiden Super League title for the French outfit would be a fourth for Tomkins, who was part of the Wigan sides that tasted Grand Final glory in 2010, 2013 and 2018.

Asked ahead of the Old Trafford showdown against St Helens where victory in the match would rank for him, the 32-year-old England captain – named Man of Steel for the second time in his career earlier this week – said: “As high as anything I have done before.

Tomkins (centre) with the trophy after Wigan’s 2018 Grand Final triumph (Martin Rickett/PA).

(PA Archive)

“I’ve had the three Grand Finals wins at Wigan, and people say ‘what was the most special?’ The 2010 was my first, 2013 we did the double, 2018 was my last ever game for Wigan, so that was special.

“And this one, we’ve got the chance to win the first trophy for a club. That’s got to rank up there. It would rank right alongside anything else I’ve ever done in the game.”

Tomkins, included in the squad for Saturday and expecting to play after sitting out the semi-final win over Hull KR due to a knee injury, has been with Catalans, working under former England head coach Steve McNamara since 2019.

The team, who won the 2018 Challenge Cup, went on to finish seventh in Super League in Tomkins’ first year at the club, were beaten semi-finalists after coming fourth in 2020, and then headed into this year’s play-offs as table-toppers.

We’ve got the chance to win the first trophy for a club. That’s got to rank up there.

Sam Tomkins

Regarding his decision to join the Perpignan side, Tomkins said: “The first point of contact was Steve and he said ‘we’re trying to build something here’.

“I met the owner Bernard (Guasch). It was at his abattoir and wasn’t sure exactly what to expect – if I’d have given him a ‘no’ that day I might have ended up in sausages!

“He explained where the club was going and what he wanted for it, and just speaking to him, you feel how passionate he is about this club and what he wants. It was a pretty easy sell once I knew that.

“I spoke to Steve about the team stuff, and knowing where he wanted to guide the team, then speaking to an owner with that drive and commitment to a club…I was sure straight away really.

“I was always confident that during my time here we could be successful. So far we’ve been close, but this year’s the one where we can actually seal that.”

Tomkins says while he loves the town and people of Wigan, it is a “goldfish bowl of rugby league”.

Of his life in France, the full-back said: “I’m an hour from the mountains one way, two minutes away from the beach. There’s amazing places for oysters and seafood.

“It was a dream come true that there’s a club in an amazing, beautiful part of the world with a great rugby team – and I’m back in Wigan to pick up my Heinz beans every two weeks as well! I’m not too far from home.”

Father-of-four Tomkins added: “The quality of life my children have got – the weather is good, every minute of the day pretty much they are outside…I certainly want to stay for a few years after I retire, and at that point I think it will be more difficult to convince my kids to move to England than anything else.

“When I went back at Christmas last year I drove my kids past where I grew up. My son was like ‘oh right – is that it?’ I said ‘yeah, we’re lucky – when I grew up I didn’t have all these things you have, a swimming pool or anything.’ And my son went ‘you didn’t have a swimming pool?’ My wife said he doesn’t know anything else.

“Here, everybody has one in their garden. My kids are growing up with a completely different outlook on life and where they live. And when we go to a park and I hear them speaking to French kids, I think that is amazing.”

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