World’s most expensive rugby league player is setting his sights on the Rugby Union World Cup.
In many team sports, the burden of turning the game around and win the match sometimes falls on the shoulders of one man. In football, for instance, Cristiano Ronaldo is credited for Real Madrid and the Portuguese National Team’s superb showings in the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, respectively – making him the world’s top goal scorer ahead of Lionel Messi and, possibly, earning him a FIFA Ballon d’Or this January. In rugby, English fans including Sir Clive Woodward are looking at Wigan Warriors full-back Sam Tomkins to take the 2015 Rugby World Cup championship on home soil.
Tomkins’ stature in British rugby has catapulted the 24 year-old player to become one of the star players for the English National Team in 2015. Even during the Rugby League World Cup also hosted by England this year, Betfair’s rugby commentator Ralph Ellis regarded Tomkins as the “Cristiano Ronaldo” who will redeem the national team on home ground. Indeed, despite the discipline problems besetting the national squad at the start of the tournament, Tomkins was able to bring the home team to Wembley before bowing out to New Zealand at the semi-finals.
Now, Tomkins is expressing his desire to represent his home country in the international rugby stage at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, slated from September 18 to October 31. “Seeing England play at Twickenham in front of tens of thousands of people, that is what would do it for me,” Tomkins told The Telegraph, referring to the Twickenham Stadium that will play host to the World Cup’s final match. “To be involved in any World Cup would be amazing so to get into a union one at some point would be amazing,” he added.
By joining the English squad in the 15-man code Rugby World Cup, Tomkins also expressed his openness to switch codes. “I am not one of these people who is all about league and says union is rubbish. If I am allowed to switch codes, it would be nice. I would never say never if the opportunity came up,” he said. This, however, won’t be the first time he’s playing in a rugby union match. In 2011, he represented the Barbarians FC as its right wing in an invitational rugby union side, only to be walloped by the Australian Wallabies 11-60.
Questions still abound on the prospect of Tomkins being enlisted in England’s Rugby World Cup squad. One important issue is his impending transfer to the National Rugby League’s New Zealand Warriors, which narrows the possible window for a cross-code switching from rugby league to union. Whether or not he will be able to follow the footsteps of his brother Joel, train for the Union World Cup and become English rugby’s version of Ronaldo will be known in the next 12 months.