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Rugby League: KR’s new signing
Hull Kingston Rovers have strengthened the club’s forward pack for the remainder of the 2018 Betfred Super League season and beyond with the signing of experienced forward from Wigan Warriors with immediate effect.
A former England international in both rugby league and union, Tomkins has racked up over 250 first team games during his two spells for the Warriors and also played for Saracens after briefly switching codes midway through his career for a reported £250,000 transfer fee.
Tomkins now makes the move to KCOM Craven Park until the end of the 2019 season after being involved in an off-field incident at the Warriors that saw him decide to leave the club.
Having spoken to Tomkins and been reassured by the player and other sources that the incident was out of character, Tim Sheens has added the back rower to his ranks on an 18-month contract, with the Rovers board of directors opting to support the decision of the club’s head coach.
Speaking to hullkr.co.uk, Tomkins said: “I’m sure everybody is aware of what’s gone on at Wigan and I accepted the punishment from them. After sitting down with my family and thinking a bit harder about it, I decided that the best thing for all parties would be for me to leave the club and I offered my resignation to Kris Radlinski, which he accepted.
“I instructed my agent to look into a deal elsewhere and there were a few other Super League clubs that were interested as well as Rovers, but Tim called me personally and really sold the club to me, both for the back end of this year and next season. After a 10-minute conversation with him, my mind was made up.
“I’m really grateful to Tim and everybody else involved at Hull KR for giving me the opportunity to move on from this. It has been embarrassing for me, there’s no doubt about that, and it’s a sad situation for me to leave Wigan in this way, but it’s also an opportunity for me to move to a club that’s on the rise and that has some big plans moving forward. I’m genuinely excited to be a part of that.”
Tomkins, who joined his new teammates for training this week and is in contention to face Castleford Tigers on Sunday, added: “It is a completely different challenge to what I’ve had in recent times in my career but I’m ready for that and I think it’s really going to invigorate me as a player and a person.
“I’m looking forward to getting in and meeting the boys. I’ll probably look to travel across to Hull for the time being and then make a decision in the off season about making a move over that way if I need to.
“From my experiences of playing at Hull KR for Wigan in the past, I know they’ve got passionate fans who create a good atmosphere and I’m looking forward to being part of that on the home team.
“I’m fit and healthy at the moment but I’m coming in with an open mind. I’m not expecting to just walk into the side, I’m going to have to really work hard and force my way into the team. I need to earn the respect of the players and the fans.”
Head coach Tim Sheens said: “We’ve been actively looking to strengthen the side for the back end of the season, whether that be securing a top-eight finish or retaining our place in Super League via the Qualifiers, and Joel adds a lot of big game experience to the squad which will be vital in some of the key matches which lie ahead.
“He’s played at the highest level in both codes and won silverware in the Challenge Cup, Super League and World Club Challenge, so there’s a lot of knowledge there that he can add to the side and at 31 he’s still got a lot of rugby ahead of him.
“We’re fully aware of what’s gone on over the past week or so, but I’ve spoken to a lot of people who know Joel well and they all agree that the incident was out of character for him. He’ll get an opportunity to redeem himself with us and we’ll be working closely with him to ensure he takes it with his actions on and off the field.”