Ex-St Helens Jon Wilkin says “selfless” Sam Tomkins has been the key to England’s success as he picks out surprising stats

England are set for a huge semi-final clash against Samoa at the Emirates Stadium as both battle for a place in the Rugby League World Cup Final at Old Trafford.

In the eyes of Jon Wilkin, there is a key battle in this game between the two fullbacks as the experienced England skipper Sam Tomkins battles Joseph Suaali’i.

Wilkin had huge praise for Tomkins as he identified the stats which demonstrate the difference between the two as he spoke on the BBC 5 Live Rugby League World Cup Podcast: “Samoa’s biggest strength is also their biggest weakness, they’re really big and really strong but at the ends of halves they look tired and really sluggish.

“The really interesting dynamic is the two fullbacks. We’ve not really spoken about Sam Tomkins at all this World Cup, it’s been George Williams, Jack Welsby, Dom Young has been spoken about a lot.

“Sam Tomkins doesn’t play like a traditional fullback. We speak about how cohesive England have been but part of that has been down to the selfless acts by Sam Tomkins to allow other players to focus on what they’re good at. He’s the glue.

“We’re used to captains like Junior standing up and inspiring people with his physicality, well I love it that Sam is inspiring his team in a real selfless and subtle way.

“So we’ve got Joseph Suaali’i who is an athlete, freakishly good athlete who is learning the game and Sam who has mastered the game.

“Just for contrast, Sam ran for 65 metres but had 39 passes, Suaali’i ran for 240 metres but passed the ball only six times.”

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Robert Owen
Robert Owen
19 days ago

He kicked great but at times got in the way at the PTB over doing it. Let the hooker do his job.