Tomkins a target

Sam Tomkins could follow Jason Robinson in starring for the Lions in Australia despite a lack of rugby union experience. [more]

Tomkins a target

Sam Tomkins could follow Jason Robinson in starring for the Lions in Australia despite a lack of rugby union experience.

The Wigan playmaker is being linked with a switch from rugby league later this year, with a host of top club supposedly battling it out for his signature.

And if the 22-year-old does change codes, former Warrington and Great Britain international Kevin Ashcroft is convinced he will soon become one of the biggest names in our game.

“The best bet you can have right now is to put money on Sam playing rugby union before the start of the next Super League season,” Ashcroft told the Manchester Evening News.

“He has everything and with more room in rugby union he would be an absolute sensation.

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“Sam would be an absolute ‘wow’ if he was to go into rugby union – he would be the first name on the England team-sheet. I can fully understand why they want him and why his name has already been included in a list of future rugby union stars.

“I’m convinced Sam will be on his way to union sooner rather than later.”

Tomkins, whose brother Joel already looks set to sign for Saracens, is arguably the leading light of the 13-aside version of the game and is seen as a possible spark to ignite the England backline in the build up to the next World Cup.

Robinson was in a similar situation prior to the 2001 Lions tour to Australia when he headed Down Under with Britain and Ireland’s elite despite having only made his Sale debut the previous November.

The Wigan winger made an instant impression with the Lions, scoring five tries on his debut and starting all three Tests against the Wallabies.

Four years earlier in 1997, the Lions had included six former rugby league stars in their squad to tour South Africa and Ashcroft believes we could be seeing more of the same in 2013 and beyond if the current trend continues.

“Rugby league can no longer live and compete with union as far as money is concerned. Gone are the days when league had the power to target the best union players,” added Ashcroft.

“I just don’t think we can stop the talent drain because we haven’t got the money. It’s a short career and a player has to cash in, it’s a case of making hay while the sun shines.

“A player can possibly earn five times more in union and it is an appealing prospect because if you were to break your leg no one would be interested in you in the next 12 months.

“Union now has total power and control and…there is the added attraction and buzz of playing international rugby in front of 70,000 crowds.

“It really pains me to think our emerging talent is slipping through the net but it comes down to money and it’s no contest.”

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