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Joel Tomkins won’t worry about rivals in bid for England World Cup spot

Joel Tomkins of Saracens. Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images Joel Tomkins of Saracens. Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

By Paddy von Behr
Friday, December 20, 2013
7:07 AM

He was described during the autumn internationals as simply keeping the England No.13 shirt warm for the injured Manu Tuilagi but Saracen Joel Tomkins has very different ideas.

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With Lions duo Brad Barritt and Tuilagi injured for the autumn internationals – boss Stuart Lancaster turned to the inexperienced pairing of Tomkins and Gloucester’s Billy Twelvetrees to fire England’s back-line.

Without looking fluid at times – Tomkins, who made his international debut in the win over Australia in November - and Twelvetrees inspired England to wins over the Wallabies and Argentina, while they even ran the world’s number one team close, New Zealand, close at Twickenham.

With the Six Nations on the horizon after Christmas, a tour of New Zealand in the summer and of course a home World Cup in 2015 – Tomkins is well aware now is the time to shine.

But the Saracens-man, who has been out with a knee ligament injury since the Kiwis match, with knows it’s his performances for his club-side that will count as he looks to catch the eye of Lancaster.

“There is always pressure – there are always going to be good players in every position – that is what international rugby is all about,” said Tomkins, who was speaking alongside Saracens players Mouritz Botha and Ben Ransom on behalf of sponsors Aviva.

“It’s just about playing well for your club week-in, week-out, then if you do get your chance to play for England, you have got to take it with both hands.

“Injuries always come and go – it’s part of sport – and if other people get injured and you get an opportunity you have got to take it.

“I never really worry too much about other players in my position. I just try and concentrate on how I’m playing and if I play well enough to get the call, then happy days.”

While his brother Sam was plying his trade for England in the rugby league World Cup, Joel Tomkins was enjoying his first taste of international rugby union with Lancaster’s men at Twickenham in the autumn.

And Tomkins insists mixing with the best of the Aviva Premiership at England’s Surrey training base at the Pennyhill Park Hotel, watching how other players trained, behaved and more-importantly performed – had made him a better player on his return to Saracens.

And with Saracens, who play fellow high-flyers Leicester Tigers this weekend, riding high in the Aviva Premiership going into Christmas – few would argue against Tomkins’ claim.

“It was just a great experience, to be involved,” added Tomkins. “That is one of the main reasons I came to rugby union, because I aspired to play in the international set-up.

“I’ll be better for the experience – it has whetted my appetite now for more international honours and hopefully if I can play well at Saracens I might get some more caps.

“It’s going to make me a better player, from being around those guys and in that environment, and I really enjoyed it.

“Obviously the result didn’t go our way against the All Blacks but we pushed them close and I think there is a great platform there for the England team to build on now leading up to the World Cup.”

• Aviva are proud sponsors of Premiership Rugby. For more information on Aviva’s home insurance deals, go to aviva.co.uk/insurance

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