With the build-up on injuries (again) this season, one players return to the side seems to have perhaps gone under the radar, but his performance last week against Huddersfield showed glimpses of him being back to his international quality. Joel Tomkins, turned 30 this week and I think he is starting to look back to his best. Everything that Wigan seemed to do well last week came through Joel, a great flick pass to set up Escare’s try and good pass to set up Tom Davies in the corner.
He looks likely to be captaining the side over the next few weeks in the absence of O’Loughlin and Farrell, his return to form could prove to be timely for Wigan. He does have a tendency to give away cheap penalties at times but hopefully the added responsibility of captaincy over the next week or so may help cut those from his game. He has currently given away the most penalties in the Wigan side to date in the Super League season, with a total of five penalties conceded.
His role this year has been to replace O’Loughlin on the interchange, playing through the middle has looked to refresh his play and he looks to be a great attacking threat once again. However, one noticeable improvement for me, is the number of tackles he is getting through by playing as a “middle”. He is currently 4th in the stats for tackles for a Wigan player, making 111 to date, not a bad return for someone who has played mainly from the interchange so far.
Whether he continues to play through the middle or he is deployed back out in the second rows will probably depend on the injuries that Wigan are stacking up. However, the signs that Joel Tomkins is back to his best are there and I am hopeful that we will see a continued improvement from him over the next couple of weeks, perhaps putting him back in contention for England duty – although, I think Mr Bennett has too many of our players in his training squad as it is!