RUGBY : England youngster Sam Tomkins is planning to run rings around Australia captain Darren Lockyer in Saturday’s Gillette Four Nations showdown at Wigan – but hopes the Kangaroo great will still swap shirts afterwards.
England youngster Sam Tomkins is planning to run rings around Australia captain Darren Lockyer in Saturday’s Gillette Four Nations showdown at Wigan – but hopes the Kangaroo great will still swap shirts afterwards.
While Lockyer will equal the record of Clive Churchill by leading the Kangaroos for a 27th time, 20-year-old Tomkins will play the biggest match of his fledgling career when he runs out for England on his home ground.
“You want to improve by playing against the best, and there are not many better than Darren Lockyer and Johnathan Thurston,” said Tomkins. “You pick bits off other players, and there is definitely stuff I’d like to learn off Lockyer. I hope he’ll swap shirts with me at the end – I wouldn’t mind that!”
Tomkins’ call-up, in place of teenage scrum-half Richie Myler, is the main change to the side that got the tournament off to a less than impressive start with a 34-12 win over France in Doncaster last Friday.
Super League’s young player of the year will partner Leeds’ Danny McGuire at half-back against the vastly-experienced pair of Lockyer and Thurston.
The other new face is that of Huddersfield prop Eorl Crabtree, who had an impressive mid-season game against France but missed England’s last two games after undergoing minor knee surgery at the end of the domestic season.
Crabtree goes on to the bench alongside Sam Burgess, who drops out of the starting line-up to make way for James Graham – with captain Jamie Peacock switching to the second row of an experienced and potentially explosive pack.
Hooker Scott Moore is the other player to miss out, which means a starting role for his St Helens team-mate James Roby.