Joel Tomkins rebuffs Leigh Centurions in retirement twist

Former Wigan Warriors star Joel Tomkins has confirmed that he will retire from Rugby League with immediate effect.

Tomkins made 237 appearances for Wigan over two stints with the Club, scoring 64 tries. He earned six caps with England Rugby League, as well as three with England Rugby Union during his code-switch.

Tomkins was a product of Wigan Warriors Academy and was called up to make his first team debut at the age of 18 against Widnes Vikings in 2005. He scored his first Wigan try against Hull FC in his debut season.

With spells in and out of the senior side, Tomkins became a first team regular in the 2008 season and cemented his spot in the side. In 2010, he lifted the League Leaders’ Shield with the Warriors and also featured in the Grand Final victory over St Helens to see him lift the Super League trophy.

Tomkins then left the Warriors to pursue an opportunity in Rugby Union with London based Saracens. He played 33 games for the London side, also earning three caps for England in the Union code until 2014 when he returned to Wigan with immediate effect.

A half-time announcement at the DW Stadium had the crowd on their feet as it was announced Tomkins would be returning to the Club after his stint away.

The versatile player, who spent time playing at centre, second row and loose forward during his career, returned for a successful second spell.

Despite losing in the 2014 and 2015 Grand Finals, Tomkins was part of the side to lift the Super League trophy once more in 2016 with victory over Warrington Wolves.

Not content with two Super League rings, one League Leaders’ Shield medal and a Challenge Cup medal, Tomkins also played in the World Club Challenge against Cronulla Sutherland-Sharks at the DW Stadium in 2017 where the Warriors claimed another piece of major silverware.

Tomkins left Wigan in 2018. He went on to play for Hull KR before joining Catalans Dragons in 2020. He recently played in the 2021 Super League Grand Final for the French side in what would be his last game of Rugby League, despite announcing he would move to the Leigh Centurions in August of this year.

Speaking to Wigan TV following the announcement, Tomkins said: “It feels like the right time for me. I’m 34 and Rugby League, and a bit of Rugby Union, has been my life for half of my life, it’s been 17 years now in the professional game.

“I’m going out on my own terms, which is a big thing for me as well. I didn’t want to go one season too long and I thought it was the right time to make the call at the time I have.”

He added: “I’m proud of what I have achieved in Rugby League and Rugby Union and I’m thankful to the Clubs that I have been a part of. All the players, coaches, backroom staff, media staff, catering staff – I’m genuinely thankful to everybody who has been part of my journey as a professional player.

“In Rugby League there is always one game that stands out as a highlight and that’s the 2010 Grand Final. It was just a magical year for me personally and Wigan as a Club, it was a transformation that year – Michael Maguire came in with Waney [Shaun Wane], they really complimented each other as coaches at that point. We had a group of lads who were willing to die on the pitch to get a win, we had that mentality to win at all costs and that was what we needed as a group. It was a perfect storm, I can honestly hand on heart say I enjoyed every minute of that season and to come out at the end of it with a Grand Final winners ring and for me that’ll always be the highlight of that season.”

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