Tomkins backs Peacock for award
Sam Tomkins believes former England captain Jamie Peacock would be a worthy choice to succeed him as Man of Steel.
The Wigan Warriors and England full-back, who will go up against Peacock in tomorrow's Super League clash at the DW Stadium, has narrowed his own selection to two candidates, with Huddersfield Giants captain Danny Brough the other man in the frame.
A year ago Tomkins was a clear winner of the prestigious award, which is determined by a poll of Super League players who cannot vote for any of their own club-mates.
The 35-year-old Peacock, who was named Man of Steel in 2003 during his time at Bradford Bulls, has continued to roll back the years with a series of eye-catching performances this year.
"It's been pretty even this year," Tomkins said. "There have not been too many stand-outs but Jamie Peacock could get it every year for what he does.
"You'd expect him to be slowing down but he's had a brilliant season.
"The other contender for me is Danny Brough, who has orchestrated Huddersfield's run to the league leaders' shield. He's been the heartbeat of that team."
Tomkins, who is not without a chance of retaining the award, will return to the Warriors side on Thursday after being one of 11 players rested for last Friday's league match against Hull FC.
Wigan coach Shaun Wane is able to pick from a full-strength side with the exception of skipper Sean O'Loughlin, who continues to battle with a calf injury which has dogged him over the last two months.
The winners of Thursday's final match of the regular season will go to Warrington Wolves in the first round of the play-offs on Saturday week, with the losers going to Huddersfield the next Thursday.
Wigan are aiming to become the first team to do the double since St Helens in 2006 and Tomkins believes Wane's decision to rest the bulk of his stars last week will give them their best possible chance.
"It's harder to do the double and that's why it's not been done recently," Tomkins said. "A chance to make a bit of history would be brilliant.
"Winning the Challenge Cup is going to give us a boost this year. In 2011 when we won it, we didn't perform in the play-offs and we know exactly where we went wrong.
"We've prepared differently and we're looking good."
Tomkins was forced to miss last year's play-offs, including the semi-final defeat by Leeds, because of a knee injury and that has made him even more determined to get himself fit this time around.
"I missed the last couple of matches last year with a torn tendon which was not nice," he said.
"I was gutted but it just spurred me on this year. The disappointment of watching us lose the semi-final is not nice. All the boys remember that feeling and we don't want to go through that again."
Leeds will be without prop Ryan Bailey, who was given a one-match ban and a £300 fine for punching during his side's 20-12 win over Catalan Dragons.
However, his absence could be offset by the long-awaited return of forwards Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Brett Delaney, who were both named in Brian McDermott's 19-man squad, along with hooker Rob Burrow who missed the win over the Dragons with a back injury.