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Tomkins aims to go out on a high

26th of September 2013
Tomkins aims to go out on a high

Sam Tomkins will bid a fond farewell to the DW Stadium on Friday but he is desperately hoping for one final swansong with Wigan Warriors.

Sam Tomkins will bid a fond farewell to the DW Stadium on Friday night but he is desperately hoping for one final swansong with Wigan Warriors before heading off to the NRL.

The England full-back is expecting emotions to be running high at the Super League play-off semi-final against Leeds Rhinos after confirming his move to New Zealand Warriors.

Tomkins' team-mates Pat Richards and Lee Mossop will also be making their last home appearances before moving to the NRL but all three will be striving to ensure they pull on the Wigan shirt one last time - at Old Trafford in next Saturday's Grand Final.

"It will be tough but there's a few of us in the same boat; it will not only be me feeling that way," Tomkins said.

"I think we're all firmly focused on winning this game. After the final whistle, we'll probably realise it's the end of a chapter for us.

"I want to leave this stadium with happy memories and beating Leeds in the semi-final would be one of the highlights of my career, one to add to a long list."

Friday's game is a repeat of last year's semi-final which Leeds won 13-12 on their way to retaining their title.

Tomkins missed that match with a knee injury and, although he will be there on Friday to lead the side in the absence of stricken captain Sean O'Loughlin, he acknowledges the threat posed by the Rhinos.

They won at the DW Stadium in the final game of the regular season earlier this month and provided another demonstration of their big-match temperament in last Friday's 11-10 win over St Helens.

"Leeds are known for peaking at this time of the year," Tomkins said. "They've done very well at it in recent years.

"We know how to beat them because we've beaten them before. We need to deal with their individuals like Kevin Sinfield, Rob Burrow, Danny McGuire, who are all world-class players, but they're players we've dealt with before."

Burrow celebrated his 31st birthday on Thursday but, like McGuire and 32-year-old Sinfield, is showing no sign of ageing and all three played major roles in the dramatic win over Saints.

Leeds coach Brian McDermott admits the "old guard" are still invaluable to his team and does not see that position changing for some time.

"I'm not scared of saying we absolutely rely heavily on them," McDermott said.

"Rob is having a fantastic season, Kev has got the right form at the right time of the year but his influence on the team whether he's on form or not cannot be underestimated and Maggsy has got class.

"Until somebody comes and takes the shirt of those three players, a lot of loyalty will be shown to them.

"They've been magnificent for this club for many, many years and continue to be so.

"All three had such a bearing on that game - Kev's control, what Rob did physically and Maggs showed two massive pieces of class towards the back end. You can't buy that."

Leeds still have injury doubts over second-row pair Brett Delaney and Jamie Jones-Buchanan and, such is their importance to the side, that McDermott may not finalise his line-up until an hour before kick-off.

"It would make it tough (without them)," McDermott admitted. "They get through so much work for us, with smatterings of quality in there.

"They do a lot of clearing up which takes a lot of juice out of the opposition and, if they're not playing, some of the other lads will have to pick up the slack."

One man standing by to take up some of the slack is 23-year-old Chris Clarkson, who has played most of the season but was one of those to make way when the Rhinos' injured players began to return.

"It's been a tough call on Clarky," McDermott said. "In the last few weeks when we went through our lowest point with injuries, he was one of the core senior blokes out there at times, making the hard yards and some desperate tackles.

"I'm sure if Clarky gets the nod this week, he will have a determination about him. I've got faith in him and I'm sure he will do a good job."

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