Sam Tomkins: Many want me to fail in the NRL

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Pressure to perform is immense as English players have a responsibility to represent the Super League.

South Sydney player, Englishman Sam Burgess has performed well in the NRL. Photo / Getty Images
South Sydney player, Englishman Sam Burgess has performed well in the NRL. Photo / Getty Images

I feel like I'm representing the UK Super League each time I play for the Warriors, which adds to the pressure because there are many people who want me to fail in the NRL.

It's nothing new. Any English bloke has a responsibility to represent Super League because it's where we made our names. There are many who don't rate the Super League but there are many who have gone before me who have done really well, like Sam Burgess, James Graham, Gareth Ellis and Adrian Morley.

Fans are very passionate in league and that's what makes the game so special. But there will always be people who want you to fail. That's how sport, and human nature, is. I don't take it personally.

You hear little things or see them on social media, people saying I won't succeed. It's what I expect but it's also something that motivates me. One of the reasons we play is because we are competitors and, if someone says you can't do something, it inspires you to go out and do it. I don't think people wanting me to fail is necessarily a bad thing for me.

I have had to develop a thick skin over the years. I have been booed playing in England in an England shirt before, booed by opposing fans for no reason and I gave Leeds fans the fingers in a Challenge Cup final a few years ago. It didn't put me in the best books with away fans. I learned from that and a thick skin is something I think all league players need.

I chatted with a few guys who had played in the NRL before I came out here and they all said it was tough and would take time to get used to. Morley was one. The way he took the NRL by storm was remarkable and that's the benchmark for every English player coming over here.

I've had an up-and-down start in the NRL. There are little bits in attack that are working but, overall, I have a lot of improving to do.

There have been a few errors that are inexcusable and things I have never done before. It's getting those out of my game and relaxing into it a little bit.

I have felt more tense than normal but it's such a different environment and there's a lot more to think about. It's not as easy going into games. That will get better as I get used to players and bed myself into the team.

That's been one of the most difficult things. I had been playing in the same side for five or six years and knew my teammates inside and out but here I'm not only getting used to different opposition but also playing in a different team.

The rules are also slightly different and the speed of the game is faster compared to Super League where there's a bigger emphasis on the wrestle.

There's also the travel - there are about 10 teams within 10km of Wigan - and defences in the NRL are more structured. No team has a poor defensive line.

In Super League there are a few teams at the lower end of the league who, if you put the right plays on, you know you will get the right result.

- NZ Herald

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