'Tomkins will not get England stage fright'
October 3, 2013
Joel Tomkins on the charge for Saracens © PA Photos
England's centre options
Saracens coach Mark McCall insists rugby league convert Joel Tomkins is ready to step up to Test level ahead of the autumn internationals.
England are currently counting the cost of a bruising start to the Aviva Premiership with both Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi sidelined. That leaves Stuart Lancaster with just two fit centres in England's Elite Player Squad - Gloucester's Billy Twelvetrees and Bath's Kyle Eastmond.
Lancaster will now almost certainly turn to the Saxons to bolster his options in the centres and the likes of Northampton's Luther Burrell, Bath's Jonathan Joseph, Wasps' Elliot Daly, Leicester's Anthony Allen and Harlequins' George Lowe could all be called upon.
Another option would be to turn to Barritt's Saracens team-mate Tomkins who missed out on the summer tour of Argentina due to an ankle injury. Tomkins made a slow start to his union career when he swapped codes in November 2011 but he is now Saracens' first choice outside centre and he could make his Test bow against Australia on November 2.
"Joel is not going to suffer stage fright if he were to be picked for England," Saracens boss McCall told the Telegraph. "The higher up he goes in a sport, the better he is. He would relish it, not be cowed by it. He has brought over that big-game mentality from rugby league. He has improved so much in the last six months, especially in his decision-making. He is forceful, physical, has great offloading skills and is in the mould of Conrad Smith."
Tomkins admits the possibility of Test rugby helped persuade him to join union but he is adamant Saracens comes first over any possible England recognition. He said: "The 2015 Rugby World Cup is a definite goal. Coming over when I did gave me a chance of making that.
"I did wonder at times if I had made the right decision as I battled to come to terms with a new game but I have no regrets at all. Far from it. I'm loving it. I just want to perform for Saracens and what happens after that will happen. These are exciting times. Of course they are. There are a few lads looking to stake their England claims over the next few weeks and that competition will bring the best out of us all."
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