QBE Internationals: Joel Tomkins relishing England v New Zealand at Twickenham
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 14/11/13 11:15am
Joel Tomkins is ahead of schedule in his 15-man career
Joel Tomkins know he's come a long way since switching codes, and told Sky Sports the likes of facing New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday is exactly why he decided to join the ranks of rugby union.
The rugby league convert has been given run in the England team by Stuart Lancaster and after facing Australia and Argentina, he now goes up against the All Blacks at Twickenham on Saturday.
The 26-year-old former Wigan Warriors man has made a decent impact so far, and now he says staring down the Haka at England rugby HQ on Saturday is exactly why he switched to 15-man rugby.
"It's been quite a journey over the last couple of years," Tomkins told Sky Sports News Radio. "When I look back two years ago I couldn't imagine I'd be in the position that I am two years down the line.
"When I switched codes I tried not to put timescales on things because it's hard to anticipate how long certain things will take, but it was always a massive goal of mine to get into the England squad and be playing international rugby so I'm just grateful that this has come around as quickly as it has done.
"This is the reason I switched codes, to play in games like this. It's a massive opportunity for me to stake a claim for the 13 jersey for the next couple of years if I can put a good performance in on Saturday.
"But the hard work's only just started as it's now all about how you perform on the international stage."
England produced a good second half display to beat Australia and a fine first 40 minutes in the win over Argentina. Tomkins hopes they can now put a full 80 minutes of quality together - which they will need for certain on Saturday.
"It's a positive thing that we've had two good results but we think we can have an improved performance - hopefully we can put it all together on Saturday," Tomkins added.
"At this level of international rugby it comes down to small margins and you've got to be critical of yourself. We've got to take the best from the last two games against Australia and Argentina and hopefully put 80 minutes together this weekend.
Best in the world
"New Zealand are the best team in the world for a reason - they're strong all over the pitch in every department and we're going to have to be close to our best from one to 15.
"But we're looking forward to it, we know it's a massive challenge but this is why we play the game and we're all really excited about it."
England beat the All Blacks at Twickenham last year but Tomkins insists it will be an entirely different challenge taking on the World Cup winners this time around.
"I'm sure New Zealand will come to Twickenham with a point to prove, but for us 12 months ago is a long time ago and we're treating it as a new fixture.
"It's a massive challenge, but we're confident in the way we're playing, if we can fix a few things up we'll do well."
Get the latest behind-the-scenes news from Joel Tomkins and his England teammates with O2 Inside Line, the weekly show from O2 - proud sponsor of England Rugby - and the RFU. Click Here to view the video