England captain Sam Tomkins announced that the 2023 season will be his last, hanging up his boots after a thrilling 16-year career with Wigan Warriors, Catalans Dragons and the NRL’s New Zealand Warriors.
Speaking live on Sky Sports before Huddersfield Giants’ 36-6 demolition of the Castleford Tigers, Tomkins gave a speech worthy of his great career in both English for the native broadcasters and in French for the Catalans fans, showing his dedication to life in Perpignan.
"When I made the decision to come to the Dragons in 2018, I had two young children. I saw it as an opportunity to play for a great club while my family could experience a new culture. Since then I have had 2 more children during my time in France and this feels like home for us now.
"From day 1 at the club we felt very welcome and I knew the club was going in the right direction. I would love to continue my career on the field with this team but after 15 years of full time rugby it’s time to call an end to my playing career at the end of the 2023 season.
"I have loved every moment of living out my childhood dream of being a rugby player.”
Tomkins continued to pay tribute to his former clubs, having collected a glowing collection of trophies and personal accolades, twice winning the Super League grand final as well as two Challenge Cups and League Leaders Shields.
"It’s been an honour to play for 3 great clubs, firstly playing for my hometown club of Wigan Warriors where I was given the opportunity and guidance to work through the reserve grades before becoming a regular Super League player, secondly the NZ warriors for a great experience in the NRL where I grew as a player and person alike and lastly the Dragons where I have been able to play my part as a leader in a club going from strength to strength over the last 4 years.
"A sportsman’s career is full of ups and downs, from winning trophies to the inevitable injuries. I am lucky that the high points of my career have far outweighed any low points.”
The two-time Man of Steel winner confirmed that he will remain with the Catalans Dragons in a new role following this season, being involved in the French side’s recruitment process, as well as being an ambassador for the club whilst performing media duties and aiding the future stars of rugby league emerging in the talented Catalonia region.
Whilst Tomkins revealed his personal news, there was plenty of action to follow on Friday night, with the game of the night taking place at Leigh Sports Village, or the Leopard’s Den as it’s since been christened.
World Champions St Helens led Leigh by 12 points to nil in a largely dominant first half, however, Adrian Lam’s side emerged victorious on the night thanks to a second-half comeback for the ages.
Tries from Joe Shorrocks, Zak Hardaker, Tom Briscoe and Josh Charnley gave the crowd plenty to cheer about in a packed arena, with Hardaker’s fancy footwork for the third try being the cherry on the cake for a team that looked happy with just surviving this season a matter of weeks ago.
Leigh’s strategy of turning home games into a party atmosphere seems to be doing the trick so far, attracting large crowds in the local area. Whereas before the walk to LSV was unassuming and quiet, a quick drive around the town on matchday shows that there is investment from the fans into the club once more, and things look to be on the up.
With IMG’s club gradings on their way at the end of the year, owner Derek Beaumont will be keen on scoring highly despite the proximity to the rugby league giants dotted around the A580, showing that Leigh can not only secure Super League success consistently, but can become a brand for the new era of rugby league.
For those interested, the pre-game entertainment doesn’t stop at 80s pop stars T’Pau, with the Leopards confirmed local indie band Lottery Winners as their next in-house guests for their next home clash against Wigan.
In other competitions this weekend, The Sportsman hosted live coverage of Featherstone Rovers vs Halifax Panthers, with the Panthers taking an 18-22 win at the Millenium Stadium thanks to Louis Jouffret’s 72nd-minute try.
If you didn’t catch the game, you can catch full match highlights on The Sportsman Rugby League YouTube channel, and don’t forget to tune in on Sunday for the Betfred League 1 clash between Workington Town and Dewsbury Rams.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject to Change