In many ways Sam Tomkins has defined a generation in Super League and England.
He burst onto the scene fully in 2009 and by the end of the year he was playing in the halves for England. He would then transition to fullback and become the epitome of the modern number one winning the Man of Steel twice and winning three Super League titles with Wigan Warriors, playing in the NRL and impressing at Catalans Dragons.
However, now retirement beckons at the end of 2023 which begs the question who will replace Tomkins as England’s number one?
This is certainly the most obvious name to pick out. Seen by many as the next Sam Tomkins with his skills and his potential, Welsby is in the eyes of many the next big star of Super League though the NRL are already looking to steal him away. He has everything an international fullback needs as we saw in the World Club Challenge as his flair was paired with a superb steal. He idolised Tomkins growing up too. The only trouble with Welsby is he may be needed in the halves.
Jake Connor is a player who divides opinion especially when it comes to England. He has the flair to win an international game and be the difference maker but some people believe he could be a liability. If Welsby is needed in the halves, then Connor could be the ideal weapon to include at fullback.
Another player who can play in the halves or at fullback, it should be said that Pryce’s long term future, based on what he said about his move to the NRL, will likely be in the halves but things like that are never certain. He is certainly a future England international and would be a terrific weapon at fullback.
A superb performer for England in the World Cup especially in the semi-final defeat to Samoa, he has started the NRL season brilliantly but has been open about a desired move to fullback. A switch there for England could work absolute wonders.
An out there one this but if England need a fullback at the end of this year they could do a lot worse than turning to Salford’s RYan Brierley. He has great support play, skill and speed. He is very underrated.