Tomkins: “I just wanted to finish.”


With less than 24 hours before the big Old Trafford showdown, Sam Tomkins has opened up on his injury hell which has left him grateful for being able to reach 2o games this calendar year.

The full-back endured an injury-ridden off-season after featuring for England in the recent World Cup and had an operation on a knee injury to keep the former Wigan man playing.

With a restricted training load, the Catalan man originally planned to return to action around ‘Round five or six’ but made an earlier arrival to the campaign against Leigh in round three before feeling like it could not only be a return, but also a departure from the sport that lies so close to Tomkins’ heart.

Speaking at the Grand Final press conference, Tomkins said: “Leigh at home was the lowest point. I got my knee to a point where it was as good as it was ever going to be and I went into that game very confident thinking I’ve done all the prep, all the rehab and it felt really good in training.

“I played the game and it felt terrible, absolutely terrible. I couldn’t turn, I lost all power in my left side at one point in the game, and it was more of a shock that it was so bad that I thought I wouldn’t be able to carry on.

“We planned on me playing eight or nine games this year. I was really lucky and it meant an awful lot to me to play my 100th game for Catalan and I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I love this club.

“It’s somewhere that I’m passionate about playing. I’m very proud to represent the club and be Dragon #132 and had I played the games we said I would, I wouldn’t reached that feat which is massive for me and more for my kids really as all they’ve ever known is me in a Catalan jersey.”

Tomkins opened up on the specific discussions that took place in the lead up to that Leigh fixture and the people who deserve huge credit for helping Tomkins to get to this stage of the season with good health.

“My knee was shot at the World Cup but I didn’t want to get it checked because I knew I had an amazing opportunity to captain my country.

“I ended up seeing four specialists, three in England and one in France, and they all gave me the same diagnosis – that I should retire straight away, but I thought I knew more than knee specialists so I carried on.

“I had an operation and wanted to see how it went which meant missing a lot of pre-season. It was more about rehabilitation and then when we played Leigh, I had a sleepless night after it. I phoned the coach and said ‘I can’t do it’.

“It was the toughest conversation I’ve ever had. I was adamant that I couldn’t do it and when I spoke to the CEO and the owner, I felt with my salary off the cap, they could bring someone in to play every game but they didn’t want that which surprised me a little.

“The club said they’d rather have me for important games which was humbling. I wasn’t wanting a pay up, I just wanted to finish. But then I sat down with the medical staff, coaches, performance staff and marked out games on the calendar which we saw at the time as the most important which came to be around eight or nine.”

With training well tailored down and Tomkins provisionally being used in marque games only, it was all about managing the injury for the 34-year-old.

Tomkins added: “We know the extent of the injury and how it reacts to different things. At the start of the season it was train a little bit, train different techniques, just to see how it goes and they’ve done amazing.

“The medical staff, the performance staff and the coaches combined have come up with a brilliant plan which has meant I’ve played a lot more Rugby than I ever imagined I’d be able to this year so I’ll be forever in debt to them for the work they’ve done to ensure in my final year, I’ll finish on the biggest stage.”

Finally, the Catalans full back spoke about the pain in which he had to overcome to ensure he is in the position he finds himself heading into one final ‘big dance’ in Manchester.

Tomkins finished: “You see after every game, we run into each other for 80 minutes and everyone gets sore bodies. It’s painful but I’m not saying I was in agony every day.

“It’s just the recovery time after the game and the three or four days after. When you’re in your 20’s you feel like you could play again the day after. When you’re my age I struggle to walk down the stairs so it’s tough and then the focus goes onto preparation to get ready for the weekend ahead.

“I’m just lucky the decision to tailor my training was made very early on this year. By now, we all know how to handle it and I’m always arguing with the Head of Performance because I want to do more but he knows best. But this has been going on since February now and my knee’s been perfect this week so we’ve got it nailed now.”

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