Full-back Sam Tomkins has been explaining why he's decided to return to his home club, Wigan Warriors, after two years playing in New Zealand.
Wigan announced the re-signing of 26-year-old England International Tomkins for a transfer fee in excess of £200,000 on a four-year contract, starting at the beginning of next season.
Tomkins scored 144 tries in 152 games for the Wigan Club and left to join New Zealand Warriors after winning the double in 2013.
The former Wigan St Patrick’s amateur has enjoyed success Down Under and played in every Vodafone Warriors game in 2014 scoring 13 tries, amassing 13 try assists and 108 tackle busts – the fourth highest in the NRL.
Sam will re-join his brother, Joel Tomkins, who also returned to the Warriors last year after three years at Saracens Rugby Union Club. The pair are also joined at the Club by youngest brother Logan.
Chairman Ian Lenagan said: “Sam is undoubtedly one of the finest players in world rugby and we acted swiftly when it became apparent that he wanted to return to the UK.
“This is another tremendous signing for the Wigan Club and only serves to justify our policy of allowing players to experience other competitions whilst always keeping the option available for them to return to the Club in the future.''
Speaking on the move back to Wigan, Tomkins said: “I am really happy to have this sorted and to be returning home to Wigan. All of my friends and family live in Wigan, a lot of them play for Wigan. It really was a no-brainer for me when I sat down and thought about things.
“It’s been a fantastic experience to test myself in the NRL but the reality is I am 13,000 miles away from my friends and family. When I left Wigan I always knew in my heart that I would return to play for the Club one day and I am very excited at the thought of returning to the DW Stadium and pulling on that famous jersey once again.''
Head Coach Shaun Wane commented: “Once I heard that Sam was looking to come back to England next year I knew we had to pull out all the stops to have him here.
''He is one of our own and a truly world class player. Sam knows what we are all about here at Wigan. He understands our culture and our systems and will slot perfectly back into my squad.''
England international Sam Tomkins will return to Wigan next season. Here are some of the telling figures in his career to date.
5 - The number of tries Tomkins scored on his Wigan debut, in a Challenge Cup tie against Whitehaven, in 2008. It was a record haul for a first-grade debut.
19 - The age Tomkins was when he played in that game.
22 - The number of tries he has scored in 28 England appearances.
26 - How old Tomkins was last month.
107 - His Super League try tally.
129 - The number of Super League appearances he made.
144 - How many tries he scored in 151 appearances for Wigan until he left in 2013.
2009 - The year he made his England debut, against Wales.
2011 - The year he played rugby union for the Barbarians against Australia at Twickenham.
2012 - The year he was named Man of Steel.
Ben Flower makes his return to Super league tonight as the Warriors take on Warrington in the Super League.
The Welsh prop forward has served a six month suspension for punching an opponent during last year's Grand Final.
It was the longest ban in the history of Super League.
His coach Shaun Wane says he's served his time:
Wigan coach Shaun Wane has urged Ben Flower to "be aggressive" when he makes his comeback from the bench against Warrington on Thursday after completing a six-month ban for punching St Helens' Lance Hohaia in the Grand Final.
Flower became the first player to be sent off in a Grand Final when, with just two minutes gone, the prop spilled a pass and was clipped by Hohaia's forearm, reacting by producing a punch that knocked the New Zealander out and then following up with a second blow while his opponent lay unconscious.
Flower's actions have been widely condemned but Wane said the player had "more than served his punishment" and is fit and raring to go.
I'm hoping he's going to be aggressive, if he holds anything back he won't be playing against Wakefield the week after.
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Wigan Council is launching a campaign to empower local women today. The #BelieveInHer campaign aims to highlight the achievement of women in order to tackle sexism.
The campaign has already gained the support of a number of celebrities and sport personalities including Former Hollyoaks actress, Sarah Jayne Dunn, the Wigan Warriors and the Leigh Centurions.
BelieveInHer aims to:
- Raise awareness of the issue of gender inequality and encourage people to take action
- Create a platform to highlight role models in the community, males that are taking a stand against gender inequality
- Inspire schools, colleges and other organisations to use this campaign to help address gender inequality issues
The campaign has created an online page were people can sign a pledgeto: "take action against all forms of gender inequality and discrimination facing women and girls."
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Well tonight Super League is back.
It kicks off with a local derby as the Widnes Vikings take on the Wigan Warriors. Both teams are coached by former Wigan teammates. Two hardmen of the sport. We don't have any of those, so we sent Chris Hall to meet them.