Sam's Team: Sam Tomkins discusses the project on Boots 'n' All

Last Updated: 06/08/13 10:03am

Sam Tomkins dropped into the Boots 'n' All studio on Wednesday evening to discuss his Sam's Team project.

The Wigan ace teamed up with Sky Sports' Living for Sport initiative to create a rugby league side from two Halifax schools - St Catherine's and Trinity Academy - who will merge and become one educational establishment in September.

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However, Tomkins did not just focus on the playing staff and also helped appoint coaches and kit-men, as well as a media and marketing department, in order to get as many pupils as possible involved in the scheme.

In an in-depth interview with Boots host Bill Arthur, the 24-year-old explained why he felt obliged to undertake the challenge of constructing a team from scratch and how eager the students were to take part.

Tomkins revealed, too, why at one stage he wondered whether the project would collapse, but also how proud he was of his squad, St Catherine's Trinity Hawks, for keeping their discipline and winning their debut match against North Halifax Grammar...

PROJECT GOALS

SAM SAYS: "It was such a unique opportunity to create a rugby league team and get the two schools together before they meet in September; we weren't really sure what to expect but it exceeded any of our expectations. We did it alongside Sky Sports Living for Sport and the main goal was to re-engage these students with school life through sport. The easy option would have been to make a rugby team but we wanted to make a full club; we wanted success on the field but the people off the field were a massive help, just as they are in Super League."

EXCITED STUDENTS

SAM SAYS: "We had over 300 students in the first assembly - which made me a bit nervous! - but only 35-36 places on the project so it was tough to decide who got in and who didn't, but I really enjoyed doing it on my days off and being with students who are passionate about this project. The students were star-struck when people like Andi Peters, Kevin Sinfield and Darren Campbell came in to help out, but they bought into what they were all saying and couldn't wait to see who would come in next."

INSPIRATIONAL WORDS

SAM SAYS: "The students especially appreciated listening to what Jamie Peacock, who has been there and done it on every stage in rugby league, had to say and hearing that he had problems with self-belief as there are a lot of students in the schools with the same issues. Words from people like Jamie really helped - one lad, Matthew, had been off school with medical issues and was quite shy, but by the end of the project he was a real character with a lot to say - and to see the team [gaining confidence] over the months made it all worthwhile."

TROUBLED TIMES

SAM SAYS: "We explained that the students needed to be performing in the school when I wasn't there, but some of the students got a bit comfortable and let their standards slip so we had to have a few weeks off to see if they had the desired attitude. I did think [the project could collapse] but after speaking to the headmaster, Andy Smith, he said that in the few weeks off there was a change in attitude for a lot of the lads who were slacking, and I was as relieved as the students to get it back on track. It was vital that we had that break and afterwards things went a bit smoother."

FINAL THOUGHTS

SAM SAYS: "There was five months of hard work from everyone involved and I was desperate for that final day to be a success and thankfully it was - as shown by myself and the media and marketing department running around clapping afterwards! A lot of kids were not the most sociable at the start but a few hours on the field changed that and they made 20 friends - and this whole project shows that nothing but good can come of young people engaging in sport. I have had a fantastic time - but it has put me off coaching and teaching!"