Joel Tomkins switches codes to join Saracens

 

Saracens today confirmed the signing of England rugby league international Joel Tomkins, but will have to wait at least three years before having the chance to get their hands on his younger brother.

The Aviva Premiership champions, who have paid £250,000 to secure the release of Joel from the four years left on his Wigan contract, were also linked with the 22-year-old Sam, whose capture would be an even bigger prize.

However, Wigan today softened the blow of losing Joel by handing Sam a new five-year contract and making him the highest-paid player in rugby league.

The England full-back had, like his older brother, signed a new five-year deal at the start of the 2011 season and today extended that by another 12 months to the end of 2016, with a cast-iron commitment to see out a minimum of three years.

The Super League club and Saracens, who are coached by former Wigan captain Andy Farrell, also unveiled a partnership which will feature at least one cross-code match within the next 12 months and could eventually lead to player exchanges.

Joel Tomkins, 24, who withdrew from England's Four Nations squad to pave the way for his cross-code switch, will link up with Saracens when he returns from a holiday in Lanzarote.

He said: "I will always be a proud Wiganer but everybody in rugby union and rugby league can see there is something very special happening at Saracens and I can't wait to be part of it."

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan admitted at a press conference that he did not try to dissuade the older Tomkins from making the switch.

"Joel wanted to move to the south of England and to take his opportunity in rugby union," he said.

"Even though we had him on a four-year contract, we never stop players moving elsewhere if they have good reasons.

"And, if you try to keep a player who doesn't really want to be there, he's not going to perform at the highest level. It comes down to compensation and a quarter of a million pounds helps.

"He is joining an excellent club in Saracens. Wigan has grown close with Saracens through these and previous discussions, and we are delighted and excited by the partnership we have announced today.

"I can seen a great deal in sports science to be gained from both clubs working together.

"First of all it's a backroom linkage but certainly in the next 12 months we'll play Saracens at a mixed rule game and I think in time we may well see a swapping of players."

Saracens chairman Nigel Wray said: "Wigan are a fantastic rugby club with a fantastic worldwide reputation and we are really excited by the potential of this partnership as we share resources and knowledge to ensure each club is able to maximise its potential on and off the field."

Meanwhile, Lenagan revealed Wigan have taken advantage of amendments to the Super League salary cap to help keep Sam Tomkins in the game.

The Rugby Football League are sticking with a £1.7million ceiling but clubs are to be given permission to make allowances for long-serving, marquee and home-grown players in an effort to prevent a drain of talent to Australia and the 15-man code.

It means Sam Tomkins is guaranteed to be a part of England's 2013 World Cup team.

"Sam enjoys rugby league and he wants to be paid at the level he ought to be paid for a player of his calibre," Lenagan added.

"He becomes far and away the highest paid player in rugby league.

"His package puts him alongside and in front of many other quite famous rugby union players, whether they are ex-Wigan or wherever they are.

"He is entitled to be paid what he is worth. He is in my opinion going to be the best player on the planet, rugby union or rugby league.

"There is no question of Sam going anywhere for the next three years at least but eventually, rather like Jason Robinson, when he has won everything three times over, there is always the possibility of the NRL or rugby union."

Sam Tomkins insisted he had not received an offer from Saracens but was happy to commit his future to his home-town club.

"I've spent the last few weeks talking with Ian and made it clear that I want to play for Wigan and no one else," he told today's press conference.

"I think the club is in a good place at the moment and I just wanted to give my full commitment to Wigan."

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
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor