There’s nothing worse than a season fizzling out and in-form Wigan Warriors full-back Sam Tomkins says his side want to avoid a repeat of 2017 at all cost.
Wigan’s Super League campaign ended in a woeful 32-0 drubbing at Wakefield Trinity as they finished sixth – their lowest placing since 2009.
A Challenge Cup runners-up medal could have been deemed a success but for a club like record 19-times Cup champions Wigan, currently second in the league with four wins from their opening five matches as they face struggling Huddersfield Giants this evening, victory is everything.
“We’re full steam, I don’t think in Super League there’s time for a transition season, you can’t plan that,” said Tomkins, speaking at the launch of the Dacia #FlairPlay challenge, which gives grassroots clubs the chance to train with the pros.
“Last year was our one where we feel we learned a lot, we had some tough lessons which hopefully we’ll reap the rewards of this season.
“We’re not looking for a slow transition, we just want to look at what we did last year and improve. We’ve not got time to mess about.
“We’ve changed some things at the club: the way we train has changed a little bit, the style of play we use has been tweaked.
“We’ve also got to recognise the good things we did last season: we got to a Challenge Cup semi-final, won that. For a lot of clubs that would have been classed as a successful season.
“There’s only two finals you can get to and we made one of them. But we’re a club that demands success so that wasn’t to the standards we want.”
Tomkins said Leeds’ comeback from the despair of finishing in the middle eights in 2016 – their worst placing since 1996 – to being crowned Super League champions last season for a record eighth time had served as some inspiration.
But more close to home was the stinging memory of failure as long-time coach Shaun Wane seeks to restore that winning feeling.
“This year there’s been a real attitude of wanting to right a few wrongs from last year, it feels like our season fizzled out,” said Tomkins, who turns 29 today and has been coached by Wane since he was 16.
“This year Shaun and the boys have wanted to make a statement of making sure we put our best foot forward and give a good account of ourselves. Last year was not what we wanted.
“Shaun’s had every sort of situation thrown at him over the last few years, from being on top to going through a record-breaking losing streak.
“We’ve won finals, lost finals and Shaun’s experienced it all.”
Yet equally important to Wigan is Tomkins’ own form and so far he is enjoying the benefits of a first full pre-season since 2009 as he looks to play on and on, injury free.
“I feel in really good shape, which, touch wood, so far has translated onto the field and I’m playing some decent stuff.
“There are still obviously areas of improvement as every player would say, but as a team we’re going pretty well.”
Enter the Dacia #FlairPlay Awards now for a chance to win your club a training session with the pros. Visit www.dacia.co.uk/Skills-Showroom for more information.