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Sam Tomkins NRL move should have been announced at end of season

Phil Clarke Posted 25th September 2013 view comments

Did you see the 'breaking news' this week? Sam Tomkins has signed for the New Zealand Warriors.

Nearly everyone in Wigan had known this for about the last 10 weeks and surprisingly for me it was announced at a press conference in Wigan on Monday. Why? I've said before on this website that as a supporter of the game I want to take each year as it comes.

Tomkins: penned a deal with New Zealand Warriors

Tomkins: penned a deal with New Zealand Warriors

I'm interested in this season, with less than 160 minutes of rugby before we'll find out the winners of the Grand Final and a World Cup to follow that. I don't want to know who's playing for whom in 2014. Not yet.

Okay, it's reportedly a world record transfer for a player from one rugby league team to another and different from the normal releasing/recruiting of players that we see throughout the season, but I don't see how the news helps the club or the sport this week.

I'm interested in this season, with less than 160 minutes of rugby before we'll find out the winners of the Grand Final. I don't want to know who's playing for whom in 2014. Not yet.

Phil Clarke
Quotes of the week


Super League Semi-Finals
Warrington v Huddersfield
8pm, Thu, Sky Sports 1
Wigan v Leeds
7.30pm, Fri, Sky Sports 2

They had a week off with no match last weekend, was that a better time to announce it?


It's great business for Wigan Warriors and one of the first times in over 30 years that a team from Down Under have paid a transfer fee for a player from the UK. Not often are we able to export players for a profit.

It's also an exciting and lucrative time for Tomkins who has the chance to grow and mature as a person and a player in a new environment, new country and new competition. He seems to have the skills, intellect and personality to prosper in the NRL.

A colleague of mine at Sky Sports questioned why news like this annoys me; he said that it happens in football.

But it doesn't happen like this in football. When a player signs for a new team he typically moves to join them straight away.

The transfer window is the chance for this to happen and I love watching Jim White on Sky Sports News when he talks about the potential developments at every club. This is the 'action' off the field when there is no 'action' on it.


Player movement is a necessary part of professional sport. Clubs want to release and recruit players for a variety of reasons. That's a good thing and it gives supporters a new hero from time to time.

But I would like to see the game introduce a rule that forbids clubs from announcing who they've signed for next season until this season is over. The Tomkins story is rather different to the point I'm trying to make here. It is an exceptional case.

However, when a fan buys a season ticket and a shirt with his favourite player's name on the back he doesn't want to be told half way through the season that he's signed for another team, or that his team have signed an obvious replacement for him next season. We have time in the off-season to make the announcements.

Some people have suggested that it's the way that a club covers up for a poor season, telling their fans that next year will be better when they have Joe Bloggs in the team.

I don't believe there is any evidence to suggest that a club's season-ticket sales directly benefit from these types of announcements. If there is, can a club please forward this to me? Surely supporters aren't that naive.


If the newspapers, websites and social media want to speculate about new signings at clubs then great. That sort of talk between fans is brilliant and can get you through a 'dull day' sometimes. It's gone on for 100 years and will do for the next 100.

The Wigan Warriors gained some media coverage for their sponsors and I suppose that it was a chance for them to inform their supporters that it will be Tomkins' last home game for Wigan. It will be interesting to see what impact that has on the attendance on Friday night at the DW Stadium.

I suppose that we'll never know because nobody knows how many people would've turned up if the press conference and announcement on Monday had never taken place.

In five of the six play-off games so far, the crowd has been lower than the corresponding league game. How will the season ticket holders take this week's news about Tomkins?

I'm just an ex-player with one man's opinion. Please let me know if you think the same way or if I've got this one all wrong.


One of the best coaches that I ever played for used to talk about putting an 'effort' on top of an 'effort'. Well one guy has certainly done that to get to this year's Grand Final and it's Rob Piercy from Hull.

At present, he's cycling from the Catalans Dragons home ground, via all of the other 13 clubs to get to Old Trafford for the Grand Final.

It will be an amazing 1440-mile trip in aid of the Steve Prescott Foundation and his local club, Myton Warriors. It's an incredible effort for a great cause and you can follow his progress and support him @RobsRugbyRide on Twitter.

Good luck Rob, see you in Manchester.

Comments (5)

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Graham Anstee says...

I agree that signing announcements should take place at the end of the season, this would give fans more to talk about when there are no games to watch. I would like to take this opportunity as an ardent super league watcher on eurosport to vent my dislike at the amount of imported players taking up places in your great competition, therefore denying young up & comming locals a chance to progress, I see this as a negative that could send them off to other sports

Posted 04:03 9th October 2013

Don Elwell says...

I would introduce a transfer window for the Off-season only, which is a decent 3+ month period from October to February. I can appreciate Wigan fans' frustrations with their 'superstar Sam Tomkins', with his move to NZ in the offerring, Sam Tomkins has pursued his media career all season to the point that I bet he has had more TV time (pundit & mentoring etc.) than minutes on the pitch for his 'beloved Wigan'.

Posted 12:34 2nd October 2013

Leigh Richardson says...

The fact Friday could be Sam and Pats Last game in Wigan colours should inspire the team and fans alike so I guess if we win the timing of the announcement might be a master stroke? Wigan by 11

Posted 14:51 26th September 2013

Nick Lowe says...

i agree with Phil that I would like to see the game introduce a rule that forbids clubs from announcing who they've signed for next season until this season is over. This is essential, unless the player has no contract for next year with the current club that he is playing for. then this is where i believe the player should be able to announce the new club he is signing for (bosman rule style announcement ). But i agree with you on regular signings being delayed until after the season as i think this would add some interest in the game during the off season.

Posted 06:01 26th September 2013

Michael Martin says...

I think you are completley wrong on this! It happens to much at Wigan that a player or coach leaves without the fans showing their appreciation. We have been treated like idiots as fans at Wigan! Everything is denied and left untill the last minute. Its about time they made it public.

Posted 13:33 25th September 2013

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