England full-back Sam Tomkins to leave Wigan for New Zealand Warriors

The reigning Man of Steel has agreed a three-year deal with the Australia National Rugby League side

Wigan have announced that England full-back Sam Tomkins is to leave the club at the end of the year to move to Australia's National Rugby League.

The Warriors confirmed one of rugby league's worst-kept secrets at a press conference at the DW Stadium on Monday afternoon when they revealed the reigning Man of Steel has signed a three-year deal with New Zealand Warriors.

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan said the Super League club have secured a world record transfer fee, eclipsing the £450,000 Wigan paid Bradford for Stuart Fielden in 2007, for the 24-year-old.

"While we are reluctant to let Sam go, he goes with our blessing," Lenagan told the press conference.

Wigan unveiled North Queensland Cowboys full-back Matty Bowen as a straight replacement on a 12-month contract, with an option for a second season, and revealed they have secured an option to re-sign Tomkins after his spell in Auckland.

Bowen, 31, is seen as a stop-gap signing to give Wigan's crop of promising outside backs like Ryan Hampshire and Lewis Tierney another 12 months to continue their development.

Bowen, who has been a big crowd-pleaser in the NRL, was not offered a new contract by the Cowboys but medical checks have convinced Wigan that his knees can withstand a swansong season in England.

"As we lose one special full-back, we ring in another special full-back," Lenagan said. "He's a superb man in terms of helping young players develop."

Tomkins will be the latest of a growing band of leading players to quit Super League for the NRL.

His Wigan team-mate Lee Mossop is moving to Parramatta from 2014, joining fellow England internationals Sam Burgess and James Graham in Sydney.

It is thought Wigan have received a transfer fee of around £700,000 for the 24-year-old Tomkins, who had three years left to run on his contract.

Tomkins, who signed his deal with the Warriors three years ago, said: "This has been a very difficult decision to make but it is now perfect timing for me to make the switch to the NRL.

"It is something in my career I have always wanted to do and this agreement with the Warriors also allows me to return to Wigan in the future.

"The Wigan club have been fantastic to me from day one. I owe them a huge thank you for all they have done and I head to New Zealand with some great memories of Grand Final and Challenge Cup success and some very special times.

"Going to Auckland is a huge step for me and my rugby league career but one I am really looking forward to. Before that, though, I want to end my time with further success with Wigan as we aim for Grand-Final glory and then with England as we focus on winning the World Cup on home soil."

Bowen has spent his entire career with the Cowboys, scoring 130 tries in 270 appearances, and played for Queensland 10 times as well as winning a solitary cap for Australia in 2004.

Wigan coach Shaun Wane said: "Matty Bowen is an excellent signing for us. His qualities as a top full-back are recognised worldwide.

"His defensive game is outstanding and his ability to open up any opposition in attack with his skill and flair is second to none.

"It is fantastic that we have been able to sign Matty and, after speaking to him, it is clear he has the hunger and desire to continue his success with us here at Wigan."

Bowen said: "I am thrilled to be joining Wigan and this opportunity provides me with a whole new chapter in my playing career."

PA

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory