England backs coach Andy Farrell urges improving Joel Tomkins to impress
Last Updated: October 19, 2013 8:11pm
Joel Tomkins: Pushing for England place
England backs coach Andy Farrell has urged Joel Tomkins to make the most of his opportunity to impress if he features for Saracens in Friday night's Heineken Cup match with Toulouse at Wembley.
Rugby League convert Tomkins will start on the bench but is expected to come on at some point as he looks to persuade the England management team he deserves to be selected for the QBE Autumn Internationals.
"Where Joel has improved massively is that he has realised that he is going to get judged on lots more things in union."
Tomkins faces a battle with Henry Trinder to partner Billy Twelvetrees in midfield for the matches against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand at Twickenham in November and Farrell feels he has improved.
"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," said Farrell.
"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."
An ankle problem prevented Tomkins from making his debut on the summer tour to Argentina but injuries to Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi have offered the opportunity to belatedly make his bow.
The 26-year-old left Wigan Warriors to switch codes in 2011 and Farrell, who followed the same path, believes Tomkins now appreciates 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," added Farrell.
"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."
You can watch the first of England's autumn internationals against Australia on Sky Sports 2 on 2 November at 13.30