Tomkins' dream start drives Wigan forward

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The Independent Online

Sam Tomkins can crown a remarkable week for such an inexperienced player by keeping Wigan's season alive tomorrow. The 20-year-old stand-off had not played a Super League match at the start of this year. After half a season as a first-teamer, he has been named in the competition's Dream Team and, in another set of awards, announced as its Rookie of the Year.

"I hoped I'd play some first-team games this season, I just didn't know how many," he said yesterday. "I never dreamt it would be anything like this."

With elder brother Joel already established in the side, Sam got his chance through a mid-season injury to Tim Smith. He and Wigan have hardly looked back. That is why they will be delighted to have him back from a minor injury for the sudden-death tie with Castleford.

Huddersfield go to St Helens tonight convinced they can take a giant step towards Old Trafford. The winners of this play-off will be just 80 minutes from the Grand Final, with the losers having to take the longer route.

Huddersfield have already proved that they can beat Saints, but they are handicapped tonight by the internal suspension imposed on Scott Moore and Keith Mason for their behaviour after the Challenge Cup final. They are also without the injured Jamahl Lolesi and David Faiumu, but a similar side, with the promising Michael Lawrence at centre, was impressive in thrashing Wigan last weekend.

"The most pleasing thing is the players will enter the game with plenty of self-belief," said their coach, Nathan Brown. "A lot of sides can be beaten before they take the field against St Helens, but we are going into the game with a good positive mindset."

Saints will want to show reports of their demise are premature. They should have James Graham and Paul Wellens fit and it would be like them to rediscover their spark when it matters.

The second part of tonight's double-header is at Wakefield, where the over-achievers of the season host the Catalan Dragons.

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