Mischievous Tomkins seeks rise to hero status

In-form full-back can announce himself on global stage by inspiring England to victory in the Four Nations final

The Tomkins brothers have gone their separate ways, but if that disappoints England's full-back in any way, he has disguised it well in the Four Nations.

While Joel Tomkins has started his rugby union education at Saracens, Sam, widely supposed to be following him, is thriving in rugby league as never before.

His form in the tournament so far is so good that a repeat in tomorrow's final against Australia should see him hailed as a national hero. Joel, himself an England league international and a certainty for this tournament before he pulled out, might now be earning more, but there is no need for any sibling envy from a younger brother who has signed one of Wigan's biggest-ever contracts to stay in league for at least another three years.

"I've spoken to Joel a couple of times and he's started training. He keeps playing the ball and tackling people and running back 10 metres," he says.

As for Sam, there is the stability of knowing what the immediate future holds. "It's always nice to know what you're going to be doing. I don't think it affected me, but it's good to know what I'm doing for the next three years – or five," he says teasingly.

On and off the field, there is an engaging sense of mischief about Tomkins. Nothing wrong with that, although you might not agree if you are one of the Leeds fans who have been known to boo him in an England shirt. During this tournament, however, there has been barely a trace of the animosity he can arouse in opposing clubs' fans. "All I've heard is Wigan fans messing about," he says. "It's good to have England supporters behind me."

The final gives Tomkins the opportunity to showcase his talents on a broader stage, both in terms of national profile and his world-wide status. He is the leading British contender for the Golden Boot, as the world's best player, after being ignored, like every other Englishman, at the rival International Player of the Year awards recently. "It was like the Aussie-Kiwi awards," he says. "I don't know why we went. Having said that, it's up to ourselves to improve and get our names up there."

One treat spectators at Elland Road will be denied is the chance to compare Tomkins with Billy Slater, the Australian full-back – and twice World Player of the Year – whose buccaneering style his most resembles. Slater is out with a broken collarbone and there is no sophistry from Tomkins when he is asked whether he is sorry not to be facing him.

"Not at all," he says. "It probably helps us a bit. He's the best player in the world. Of course we're glad he's not playing."

Tomkins, not one for false modesty, still puts himself several strides behind Slater. If he can inspire his country to victory at Elland Road, others might beg to differ.

His mother, father and a gang of other relatives will be there to see whether he can do it, but not Joel. "He'll be training," says his brother. Joel has a new game to learn, but tomorrow might be one day when he suffers a twinge or two of sibling jealousy. Nor should he expect any family favours if plans for a Wigan-Saracens match come to fruition.

"If it ever comes to a cross-code game, I might have to smash him," Sam replied to one tweet this week, like the irrepressible little brother he is.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin visits her 1990s work ‘My Bed’ at Tate Britain in London, where it is back on display from today
artsBut how does the iconic work stand up, 16 years on?
Life and Style
life + style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor