JOEL TOMKINS believes he can recapture career-best form following his controversial move from Wigan Warriors to Hull KR.
The former England second-row is likely to make his debut at Castleford Tigers on Sunday after completing the switch on Monday.
Tomkins resigned from Wigan having been suspended for four weeks by his hometown club after video footage emerged of him in a drunken state verbally abusing a barmaid.
Although he apologised for the incident and paid a fine, the 31-year-old recognised it would be best to make a “fresh start” and he feels he can do that at Rovers, who seem destined to be set for another campaign in the Qualifiers.
However, although Hull KR are struggling for survival, Tomkins feels they can help revitalise his own career path.
Since returning to Wigan in 2011 following a three-year stint with Saracens, he has struggled to find the sort form that saw the rugby union club fork out £250,000 for his services.
“Since I’ve come back from union, I’ve had two years where I’ve been hampered by injuries,” explained Tomkins, who earned three Test caps with England in the 15-man code haivng also represented his country in league.
“I’ve had three operations in that time and it was a bit of a struggle. This year though, I’ve not missed a game through injury and I come into a club where they look after guys at the back end of their career.
“That was another reason why I decided to come to Hull KR. It’s a long way from Wigan, but I think it’s the club where I can play my best rugby.”
In recent times, Tomkins was not necessarily a certain pick in Wigan’s 17 when everyone was fully fit but his experience should prove crucial for the Robins as they prepare to battle against the threat of relegation.
This was a rugby decision - I weighed up all my options with the other clubs but once I spoke to Tim, it was clear this was the best choice for me. There’s a battle on this season to get in the top eight, and that is the goal.Joel Tomkins
There was some talk he may play centre especially after Australian centre Andrew Hefferan was today ruled out for the rest of the season due to ongoing concussion issues.
However, he said: “I’m just looking at playing back-row for now. I have got that versatility by where I can fit into the centres if needs be – but my best position is back-row. I can play in the middles too, but I’ve trained in the back-row, and if I do play this weekend, that will be where I play.”
Tomkins said the Rovers players had “ribbed me for 10 minutes” about the aforementioned incident but then quickly welcomed him into the fold.
“It’s a fresh start and that’s why I made the decision to leave Wigan,” he said. “Because I felt that, after the incident, it would have been best for everyone involved to make a fresh start.
“After speaking to Tim (Sheens) during the week of it all happening, it was pretty obvious to me and my family that this was the place best suited to me moving forward.”
He insisted his family was not affected after what had happened and he is looking forward to starting with the Robins although he will commute over daily with the likes of fellow ex-Wigan players James Greenwood, Danny Tickle and Lee Jewitt.
“To be honest, the situation has already died down,” he said. “I got drunk in a pub, and acted like an absolute idiot - plenty of people have been guilty of that. My family haven’t been affected by it really; I got stick for a week or so but it’s died down now.
“This was a rugby decision - I weighed up all my options with the other clubs but once I spoke to Tim, it was clear this was the best choice for me. There’s a battle on this season to get in the top eight, and that is the goal.
“It’s achievable, but the odds are against us in some respect. In the Qualifiers, if that’s where we are, our goal will be to win it and build up momentum going into next season.
“There’s no more pressure here than I would have felt at Wigan or any other well-supported club, but one of the reasons I wanted to come here was that the atmosphere is always outstanding. I’m looking forward to being on the right side of that now. Those derby games, and playing in front of Hull KR’s fans.. I can’t wait for that.”
Asked if he was expecting abuse from the Castleford fans on Sunday, he added: “If the abuse happens, it happens. It’s a bit of a pantomime and it doesn’t really affect the game, you’ve just got to get on with it as a professional sportsman.”
Meanwhile, Sheens confirmed captain Shaun Lunt expects to be back from injury for Castleford’s game and Robbie Mulhern - earlier than expected - Danny McGuire and Tommy Lee could all return for the following match versus Huddersfield Giants.