Sam Tomkins has the ability to become one of the game's all-time greats, according to his new Wigan coach. Michael Maguire, the latest occupant of the hottest seat in Super League, heaped praise on the 20-year-old England stand-off at his first press conference yesterday.
"I'm excited about helping Sam to improve his football," said the former Melbourne assistant coach. "He's a talented kid and he could turn into one of the greats of rugby league. He has the potential to do that, if he works hard and studies the game hard."
Maguire was impressed by Tomkins's displays in the Four Nations and believes that one key to unlocking his potential is the arrival of Paul Deacon as a specialist half-back coach. He feels that Tomkins is well-placed to benefit from the appointment. "He can help Sam with his understanding of the game and how to build pressure," Maguire said. He revealed that Tomkins had got permission to leave the England camp during the Four Nations to meet his new coach as soon as he arrived in the country, which he interprets as a measure of his keenness. Tomkins and Deacon, who will combine coaching with playing during the first season of his three-year contract, could line up together in the pre-season friendly at St Helens on 27 December.
Maguire's first Super League fixture in charge will pit him against the man he succeeded at Wigan, Brian Noble, now the coach of the Crusaders. The sides meet at the DW Stadium on 5 February but the rebranded Welsh club – formerly the Celtic Crusaders – begin their season a week earlier with a game against Leeds, brought forward because of the champions' fixture against Melbourne in the World Club Challenge. That match will be at Wrexham, rather than the Crusaders' new home at Newport.
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