Wigan Rugby League Club have announced the immediate but significant re-signing of dual-code International Joel Tomkins from Saracens Rugby Union Club for an undisclosed transfer fee on a four-and-a-half year contract.
Tomkins, 27, re-joins after 3 years in Rugby Union, where he played over 40 games for the Premiership giants and earned representative honours with England Rugby Union (3) and England Saxons (2).
Having progressed through the Wigan Youth Development System Joel made his debut against Widnes Vikings in 2005 at the age of 18. He started as a Back Row Forward before moving into the Centre position from where he scored one of Rugby League’s most spectacular and memorable tries of all time in the 2011 Challenge Cup Final during Wigan’s 28-18 victory over Leeds Rhinos. In total he made 117 appearances for Wigan, scoring 40 tries, and made 4 appearances for England Rugby League.
Tomkins’ signing comes at an exciting time for both Wigan and Super League as the Warriors see their latest breed of high quality home grown players establish themselves in the First Team ahead of the sport moving into a new competition structure from 2015.
Chairman Ian Lenagan is understandably delighted with the signing which fits exactly with Wigan’s strategy to allow top Wigan players to explore other areas of Rugby, before returning to Wigan:
“To bring a player of the calibre of Joel Tomkins back to Wigan and back to Rugby League gives me great pleasure. His positive motives for returning will also send shockwaves across the sporting world where many people perceive sportsmen as being driven purely by money.
“We said when he left that we hoped he would return one day to pull on the famous Cherry & White shirt and this is a proud day for the Wigan Club. I’ve no doubt this will be welcomed by everyone associated with Rugby League, none more so than by Wigan fans.”
Joel Tomkins spoke of his desire once again to play a sport he loves:
“I’d like to thank Saracens for the opportunity for me to try a different sport, a different lifestyle and also for assisting my development which allowed me to represent my country and fulfil one of my ambitions.
“However, after a long thought-out process and at this stage in my life, I realised that the timing was right to come home. I am very grateful to Wigan Warriors for taking me back to the best Rugby Club in the world. I grew up in Wigan and came through the Academy system from the age of 13. It means everything to me to pull on the famous Cherry and White jersey again.”
Tomkins is recovering from a bulging disc in his back, but following an extensive medical assessment, the Club expect him to make a return to First Team action in approximately 4 weeks.
“I relish the opportunity to play in front of my closest friends and family and the Wigan fans, who I believe are the best in the world” Joel added.
Head Coach Shaun Wane commented:
“To see Joel Tomkins come back to us demonstrates the strength of the culture we have here at Wigan and shows that the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere. His return is a clear indication of the strength of our sport and the pleasures of playing it and I would sincerely like to thank Kris Radlinski (Rugby General Manager) and Ian Lenagan for bringing back one of the best rugby players in the world.”
Joel Tomkins was officially unveiled at Half Time of Wigan’s Super League game against Widnes Vikings on Wednesday night where he signed his new contract in front of the Warriors fans. An exclusive video interview with Joel is now available on Wigan TV.