Wigan Warriors announced that Full Back Sam Tomkins will be joining NRL side New Zealand Warriors.
In an innovative agreement similar to that which has seen Lee Mossop join Parramatta, Tomkins has agreed a 3-year contract with the Auckland-based Club for Seasons 2014, 2015 and 2016.
New Zealand Warriors will pay Wigan a Wigan-record Transfer Fee as Sam Tomkins has been developed by the Club and is currently contracted with Wigan on a long term contract.
As part of the agreement by Wigan to release the England International to take up this challenge in the NRL with New Zealand Warriors, it is agreed that Wigan will have first option to re-sign him at a defined salary when and if the player chooses to return to Super League.
Speaking about the agreement with New Zealand Warriors, Wigan Owner and Chairman Ian Lenagan said;
“We are extremely disappointed to be losing a player of Sam’s talent and ability, but Sam’s determination that now is the time for him to be taking up the personal challenge of playing in the NRL, is the driver of this deal at this time.
“When we realised that Sam was not able to be persuaded to stay a further year at Wigan – having won 2 Challenge Cups, 2 League Leaders Shields and 1 Grand Final, with the chance shortly of that being 2, together with Man-of-Steel and Junior Player of the Year Awards – we have had an open dialogue with him about New Zealand Warriors and other NRL clubs’ interest in him. This agreement between the two Clubs was signed 10 days ago and sees Sam returning to Wigan if he ever returns to Super League.
“Sam is still only 24 years of age and is determined to return to Wigan in the future. If he does, he will do so an even better player than he already is and he will still be at the peak of his career.
"The Wigan Club is in a strong position to benefit from the excellent experience he will have gained whilst away in the NRL and this Transfer also offers the Club the opportunity financially to be able to go out and find a replacement whilst also benefitting our own young Wigan-trained players who continue to flourish within our set-up.”
Speaking about the opportunity to join New Zealand Warriors, Sam Tomkins said;
“This has been a very difficult decision to make but it is now perfect timing for me to make the switch to the NRL. It is something in my career I have always wanted to do and this agreement with the Warriors also allows me to return back to Wigan in the future.
“The Wigan Club have been fantastic to me from day one and having progressed from a Community Coach to an Academy Player and then playing First Team was a real dream come true for me. I owe the Club a huge thank you for all they have done and I head to New Zealand with some great memories of Grand Final and Challenge Cup success and some very special times.
“Going to Auckland is a huge step for me and my Rugby League career but one I am really looking forward to. Before that though I want to end my time with further success with Wigan as we aim for Grand Final glory and then with England as we focus on winning the World Cup on home soil.”