HE WAS described during the autumn internationals as simply keeping the England No13 shirt warm for the injured Manu Tuilagi, but Saracens centre Joel Tomkins has very different ideas.
With Lions duo Brad Barritt and Tuilagi injured, head coach Stuart Lancaster turned to the inexperienced pair of Tomkins and Gloucester’s Billy Twelvetrees to fire England’s back line.
Without looking fluid, Tomkins, who made his Test debut in the November win over Australia, and Twelvetrees inspired England to wins over the Wallabies and Argentina, while they even ran the world’s No1 team, New Zealand, close at Twickenham.
With the Six Nations on the horizon, a tour of New Zealand in the summer and of course a home World Cup in 2015, Tomkins knows he must impress Lancaster over the next month.
“It’s just about playing well for your club week in, week out,” said Tomkins, speaking on behalf of Aviva.
“If other people get injured and you get an opportunity you have got to take it. I never worry too much about other players in my position. I just try to concentrate on how I’m playing and if I play well enough to get the call, then happy days.”
Tomkins says England duty has improved him, and with Sarries, who play Leicester Tigers tomorrow, top of the Aviva Premiership, few would argue.
“That is one of the main reasons I came to rugby union, because I aspired to play in the international set-up,” said the former rugby league star. “It has whetted my appetite for more international honours.”
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