“Who’s that?”: Sam Tomkins responds to Phil Gould’s England comments but concedes “NRL is a stronger competition”

Sam Tomkins is set to achieve a lifelong dream when he captain’s England in the opening game of the World Cup against Samoa on Saturday.

But everyone is tipping him and his England side to come up short against a star-studded Pacific Islands nation.

From bookmakers to pundits, many have written off England including Phil Gould who said over the weekend that not only did he think England wouldn’t beat Samoa, he said England “can’t” beat Samoa.

When asked about this, Tomkins comically said: “Who’s that?”

After being informed of who Gould is, Tomkins simply said: “I don’t care what he thinks, he can think what he wants.”

He did have his say on whether it frustrates him the lack of respect some Australian experts give the English game: “No, it’s nothing. The NRL is a stronger competition than what we’ve got over here, that’s what they base it on.”

All of this may work in England’s favour as it can all be used as motivation which is Shaun Wane’s speciality according to Tomkins: “Shaun is passionate and gets it across to players really quickly. I’ve had Shaun coaching me since I was 15 years old. He is full on and fires you up for games. I think that Shaun’s biggest asset, he gets players playing well in big games.

“That’s why they’ve appointed him.”

He also noted that winning with England is the one itch he has left to scratch: “Yeah it does bother me, we’ve lost games with England and it’s never through lack of effort. We know this year we’ll have to be better than we ever have been before.

“To be successful in that shirt is always the main goal. It’s a tough task, we’re not favourites. Some teams would be favourites in front of us, but we have a great group of players.”

Tomkins is not shying away from being the underdog and when asked by BBC Five Live at the same event if England in his mind were favourites for the Samoa game, he said: “Certainly not” before saying on Sky Sports that he and his team will embrace the underdogs tag.

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