Joel Tomkins takes pay cut to return home
Joel Tomkins has taken a pay cut to return to rugby league, the dual-code international has revealed.
The 27-year-old centre or second rower cut short his stay in rugby union by signing a four-and-a-half year contract with his old club Wigan Warriors, who have paid an undisclosed transfer fee to Saracens.
"Obviously the salary cap in rugby union is bigger so the wages are bigger but my motivation in moving to rugby union was never financial," Tomkins said.
"I wanted to try something different and I'm glad I did it. I've had some good experiences."
The Wigan-born Tomkins made three appearances for England during his three seasons in the 15-man code but admits he jumped at the chance to return to his roots, especially under his old mentor Shaun Wane.
"I left the club on really good terms," he said.
"Me and (chairman) Ian (Lenagan) always said, if the time is right, there would be an opportunity to come back and the time feels right now.
"The top and bottom of it is that I feel I am a better rugby league player than I am a rugby union player. I enjoy playing rugby league more than rugby union.
"I'm 27 now and I feel I have a lot more to give still to the game and to this club. It's about repaying the club now for the confidence they've shown in me.
"It's the best rugby club in the world. One of my main regrets when I left was that I never got to play under Shaun in the first team. I've been with Shaun since I was 13 and it will be nice to work with him in the first team.
"All the family are really chuffed. We've got our first baby on the way so it's quite an exciting time for us off the field as well as on. I'm just looking forward to getting back it."
Wigan rolled out the red carpet, literally, to welcome Tomkins back to the fold at half-time in their 48-4 win over Widnes Vikings on Wednesday night that took them to the top of the First Utility Super League.
He came through the club's youth system to make 117 appearances for the senior team from 2005 up to his transfer in 2011, scoring 40 tries including a spectacular long-range effort in the Warriors' Challenge cup final win over Leeds Rhinos three years ago.
Wane said: "I can't tell you how pleased I am I've got Joel back. He's a special friend and part of the family here. He's going to be a great asset to us and it's a shot in the arm for English rugby league as well."
Tomkins returns to Wigan with both younger brothers currently plying their trade elsewhere but it is conceivable that all three could be reunited at the DW Stadium.
Logan, 21, is currently on loan at Salford Red Devils but is expected to return to Wigan next season and Lenagan has not given up hope of welcoming back England full-back Sam from the NRL when his commitments are complete with New Zealand Warriors.
"I said when we announced Sam and Lee Mossop going that we expected Wigan players would go to the NRL or to rugby union and that two out of three of them would come back," Lenagan said.
"It's great to see the first one back already and I think there will be a number of those who will do precisely the same when it is right for them and when they've been successful where they've been."
Tomkins, who is set to revert to the back row after turning out in the centre in rugby union, could be set to renew his rugby league international career, with England playing the Four Nations Series in New Zealand and Australia at the end of the season.
His last appearance was alongside Sam in England's defeat by Australia in the 2010 Four Nations final at Elland Road.
"I think it will be in the back of the mind of every player who is eligible to play for Englandbut my priority is to get back fit," added Tomkins, who is currently recovering from a bulging disc in his back.
"I've got four to six weeks rehab programme and then I'll work my way into this team.
"The young lads that have come in have played really well so there's a lot of competition for places. My goal is to get into this team before I start to think about the internationals."