League star set face Wallabies

2011-11-21 19:48

London - Much-coveted rugby league star Sam Tomkins is set to play for the Barbarians in their rugby union clash with World Cup semi-finalists Australia at Twickenham this Saturday.

The 22-year-old Wigan Warriors fullback - scorer of 26 tries in 25 Super League appearances - had pledged not to speak to rugby union clubs for three years but has been given permission by the club to play for the Barbarians.

Tomkins, whose elder brother Joel recently switched codes and joined English Premier League champions Saracens, will join up with players from 10 different countries in a side being coached by All Blacks World Cup winning handler Graham Henry.

"We are delighted that Sam, with the support of the coaches and management at Wigan, has accepted this opportunity to play in such a high-profile union match," said Barbarians commercial director Mike Burton.

"In recent years the likes of Mat Rogers, Lote Tuqiri, Wendell Sailor and, a few months ago, Willie Mason, have all made a mark when playing for us on the big stage. We are confident that Sam will be equal to the challenge this week."

Tomkins, who played for England in Saturday's 30-8 defeat by Australia in the Four Nations final, does not have any commitments with Wigan until returning for pre-season training.

"The Wigan club and Sam are very pleased to accept the Barbarians' invitation," said Ian Lenagan, chairman and owner of the Warriors.

"Sam is an exceptional player in either code of rugby and his selection shows the growing mutual respect between the codes of rugby league and rugby union in England.

"It's a great opportunity for Sam to experience the Twickenham atmosphere and showcase his talents on another major stage."

Barbarians squad:

Sam Tomkins (England RL), Bryan Habana (South Africa), Isaia Toeava (New Zealand), Robbie Fruean (Crusaders/NZL), Stirling Mortlock (Australia), Richard Kahui (New Zealand), Seru Rabeni (Fiji), Danny Cipriani (England), Peter Stringer (Ireland), Nemia Kenatale (Fiji), Keven Mealamu (New Zealand), Adriaan Strauss (South Africa), Salvatore Perugini (Italy), Sylvain Marconnet (France), Eusebio Guinazu (Argentina), Victor Matfield (South Africa), Simon Shaw (England), Marco Bortolami (Italy), Jason White (Scotland), Jerome Kaino (New Zealand), Adam Thomson (New Zealand), Mauro Bergamasco (Italy).


  • karl.juhnke1 - 2011-11-22 01:13

    The temtation must be great for English Rugby League players to change codes and not just for the money and undeserved extra media accolades they will recieve. After 39 years of being unable to beat the best Rugby team in the world by a country mile (The ARL Kangaroos) in any tournament, going over to Union where the opposition is not so far behind in terms of how Rugby can be played (skill, pace, mental and physical toughness, fitness) is a way to avoid the best yet be applauded for doing so.

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