Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Farrell urges Tomkins on

Stuart Lancaster expects several players to press their claims for an England spot in the Heineken Cup.

England backs coach Andy Farrell has urged Joel Tomkins to seize his moment if Saracens send him into battle in Friday night's Heineken Cup clash against Toulouse.

The Wembley showdown is the final chance for Tomkins to prove to the Red Rose management that he should be chosen ahead of Henry Trinder to partner Billy Twelvetrees in midfield for the QBE Internationals.

The 26-year-old will start the clash between two European heavyweights on the bench, but is expected to be involved at some point.

"Joel has to make sure he realises that how he has an impact on a game is not just about ball in hand. He is getting that now," Farrell said.

"It doesn't get much better than Toulouse at Wembley, a side that has been together for a while with a host of international stars."

Tomkins, alongside fellow uncapped centres Trinder and Luther Burrell, was on Wednesday called into England's squad for the Twickenham fixtures against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand.

A troublesome ankle prevented him from making his debut on the summer tour to Argentina, but injuries to Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi have cleared a path into the Test arena.

It has been two years since he left Wigan Warriors rugby league club to join Saracens and Farrell, who pursued the same route, insists he now understands the nuances of union.

"Joel was super-keen for the move to happen and that shows in his determination to make it into the England squad as quickly as he has done," Farrell said.

"His thirst to get to this level is one of the reasons we brought him over in the first place.

"The hardest thing about switching codes, especially when you've an influential player who likes to get his hands on the ball and have an impact on the game in league, is the fact that you don't always get that opportunity in union.

"Everybody goes into a game wanting to show what they can do with ball in hand. That's what they think people are going to judge them on.

"So it was a bit frustrating and difficult for Joel at the start to realise that you can't always bring to the game in union what you are used to bringing in league.

"You are guaranteed ball in league, there is no doubt about that.

"Where Joel has improved massively is that he has realised that he is going to get judged on lots more things in union.

"Every single aspect of his game is looked at - his breakdown work for example. The breakdown was completely alien to him. That has taken time, but he's getting it now.

"At beginning of last year he wanted to off-load the ball all the time. Now he is more selective."

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