Super League: Pat Richards backs Sam Tomkins over NRL switch
Pat Richards is confident Wigan team-mate Sam Tomkins will prove a big hit in the NRL.
Last Updated: 24/09/13 5:16pm
The Warriors' two Man of Steel winners will be opponents from next season when both will be plying their trade Down Under.
Richards decided in April to make his eighth season at Wigan his last as he secured a return to his old Wests Tigers club for 2014, while Tomkins this week confirmed one of rugby league's worst-kept secrets by unveiling his move to New Zealand Warriors.
Richards said. "He's an exciting player and I think he'll go well in the NRL.
"His style of play will go down well. He's a great player and great players play well anywhere. I think he's up for the challenge."
Although it is eight years since Richards last played in the NRL, he was able to offer some advice to Tomkins about the challenges he faces.
"We talked about it a little bit," he said. "I know he's really keen on getting out there and tasting it himself.
"He's a competitor. He just wants to compete hard and I'm sure he will do that.
"It will be different (playing against him) but I'll think about that when we get there."
The 31-year-old Richards has witnessed at close hand the meteoric rise to fame of Tomkins, who made a fairytale senior debut by scoring five tries in a Challenge Cup fifth-round win over Whitehaven in May 2008.
Richards was at full-back that day, scoring 38 points in a 106-8 win, while Tomkins slotted in at scrum-half in the absence of Thomas Leuluai, his soon-to-be New Zealand Warriors team-mate who was away on international duty.
Richards was again at full-back the following February when Tomkins made his Super League bow as a substitute in a round-four game at Harlequins, which Wigan won to end an opening sequence of three straight defeats.
A week later Australian stand-off Tim Smith made way for Tomkins in the wake of the club's worst start to a season for 23 years and he never looked back.
Both men will now be playing their last match at the DW Stadium on Friday when Wigan take on Leeds in the play-off semi-final, which will also be their farewell appearances if Shaun Wane's men lose to the reigning champions.
Richards added: "I saw him as a 50-kilo little kid coming through and he's turned into a superstar.
"He's been fantastic for the club and hopefully we can get to Old Trafford and finish the season off well."