SAM Tomkins has called on England rugby league fans to change their mindset and look at the bigger picture – their country.
And the best way to get them to do this is to get the test site to play more.
Shaun Wane’s men delivered a convincing 18-4 win over the Combined Nations All Stars in last Saturday’s mid-season international match – on the verge of flying to the other end of the world, the toughest opponent they could face.
But listen to a lot of supporters and see a crowd below 10,000 in Warrington, where five-figure attendances for league games are the norm, and you could be forgiven for thinking, “What was the point?”
However, Tomkins believes the mentality needs to change, particularly when it comes to the All Stars game ahead of this year’s World Cup, and bosses of the 13v13 code can help by getting England on the pitch more regularly.
“Fans don’t support England, they support their club’s players,” he admitted. “That’s why the All-Stars game has a really weird vibe.
“There’s not really an atmosphere at these games like someone’s backing Warrington, they’d have backed Daryl Clark for the All-Stars and George Williams for England.
“People should get behind the national team, put aside club loyalties and support your nation. If you’re a foreigner, support the All Stars. Go and buy a leotard, go and yell for them.
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“That’s the way it should be, that’s the way it is in rugby union, that’s the way it is in football.
“Rugby league needs to get on board and we need people to come out and forget who they’re supporting, Wigan, Castleford, Leeds, whoever. They should be England fans.
“For me, there should be as many games as possible. The greatest honor is playing for your country, but the bottom line is that we live a long way from any good international team.
“We won’t be able to drive 11,000 miles once a month to play a game.”
England’s victory – and seeing that they didn’t do some things perfectly – was a big step towards this year’s World Cup.
And Catalans star Tomkins knows there’s only one way to really change an attitude and that’s to win it. That’s why the All Stars, derided by many, is a valid concept.
The 33-year-old added to SunSport: “To make the game grow we need to be successful. We cannot expect to grow and gain nothing.
“The last time we won the World Cup it was in black and white. We have to be successful, it’s up to us and that will make the sport grow.
“Nobody wants to promote and follow a team that doesn’t win trophies.
“We would have loved to play a national team, a good one, but the All Stars were the best there was and we had to make sure we made the best of what we could.
“We didn’t play Australia, New Zealand, Samoa or Tonga but we were good players against 17 who wanted to go out there and win.
“There will always be 17 good foreign players in the Super League, so they will always be a solid team as long as the concept lasts.”
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5637969/rugby-league-england-sam-tomkins/ England captain Sam Tomkins is urging fans to get behind the national team who should be playing more