Tomkins thrilled by prospect of Australia challenge


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The Independent Online

Sam Tomkins continued his devastating form at Leigh and now aims to reproduce it on the slightly bigger stage of Wembley. Tomkins scored four tries in England's 42-4 victory over Wales in their opening fixture of the Four Nations, just as he did against France at the same venue last year.

"Playing for England at Leigh has been pretty good for me so far," Tomkins said. "It's always good crossing the try-line and I got in the right place at the right time."

The focus now switches to the much more demanding fixture against Australia at Wembley on Saturday and a chance to face the man generally recognised as the world's best full-back.

"It's going to be a tasty battle between me and Billy Slater," Tomkins said. "He's been the best full-back in the world for quite a while now. I watch a lot of his clips and he's pretty impressive.

"I don't model myself on anyone, but there's areas in his game where I want to get to the same level."

Tomkins was booed by a section of England fans when he played against the Exiles at Headingley in mid-season. There was little or no sign of that at the Leigh Sports Village, his two first-half tries, plus a try-saving tackle on Craig Kopczak, putting England on their way to a convincing win.

"It was nice to hear the cheers in an England shirt," he said. "I think it was because we were closer to Wigan."

Other tries came from Kirk Yeaman, Jack Reed, Chris Heighington and Gareth Widdop, with Kevin Sinfield, who also had an outstanding all-round game, landing five conversions.

Steve McNamara, the England coach, was pleased with the performance, but will need his players to lift their intensity at Wembley.

Australia ended their 26-12 victory over New Zealand with injury concerns over three players. Willie Tonga has suspected broken ribs, Cooper Cronk a broken nose and David Shillington a knee problem.

Shillington's injury is not as serious as first feared but Australia are still unhappy about the circumstances of it. Their suspicion is that he was the victim of a so-called "cannonball" tackle from the Kiwi hooker, Isaac Luke.

The tackle, banned in the NRL, involves the ball-carrier being held up by two defenders while a third targets the knee.

If a video review panel today decides that Luke has a case to answer, he could face a disciplinary hearing tomorrow and could miss New Zealand's game against Wales, which forms the first half of the Wembley double-header.

The Kiwis will, however, have Russell Packer and Adam Blair back from suspension for that match.

Wales also expect to have a wider range of options with Lloyd White and Peter Lupton likely to be fit after hamstring injuries. Their coach, Iestyn Harris, declared himself "proud" of their efforts against England and said that, with a little more steadiness, they could have had more than their one try, scored by Bradford's Elliot Kear in the second half.

Meanwhile, Italy qualified for the 2013 World Cup after a 19-all draw with Lebanon. The Italians, captained by Anthony Minichiello, the former Australian Test full-back, won their European group on points difference after a late, equalising drop-goal.

They join the USA, who beat Jamaica last week, in the 14-team tournament.

Melbourne's Dane Chisholm scored a hat-trick for France in their 46-10 win over Scotland in their European Championship match in Perpignan.